An interesting parallel appears here between economics and exit, on the one hand, and politics and voice, on the other. Just as in economics it had long been thought that the more elastic demand is (that is, the more rapidly exit ensues whenever deterioration occurs) the better for the functioning of the economic system, so it has long been an article of faith of political theory that the proper functioning of democracy requires a maximally alert, active, and vocal public. In the United States, this belief was shaken by empirical studies of voting and political behavior which demonstrated the existence of considerable political apathy on the part of large sections of the public, for long periods of time. Since the democratic system appeared to survive this apathy rather well, it became clear that the relations between political activism of the citizens and stable democracy are considerably more complex than had once been thought. As in the case of exit, a mixture of alert and inert citizens, or even an alternation of involvement and withdrawal, may actually serve democracy better than either total, permanent activism or total apathy. One reason, stressed by Robert Dahl, is that the ordinary failure, on the part of most citizens, to use their potential political resources to the full makes it possible for them to react with unexpected vigor—by using normally unused reserves of political power and influence—whenever their vital interests are directly threatened… [Albert Hirschman. Exit, Voice and Loyalty. Chapter 3. 1970]

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