Large-scale efforts to measure the democratic nature of polities across space and time are most useful when they reflect the variety of conceptions of democracy developed by political theorists. Traditionally, the attention of political theorists as well as political scientists focused on what it means for the people to rule, to the neglect of the equally important question of who the relevant people should be. In recent years, however, an increasing number of political theorists have tackled the problem of defining the demos and offered a wide range of answers. The article argues that empirical democracy measurement projects should take into account the variety of conceptions of the demos debated today instead of assuming consensus on this dimension. It also discusses how this can be done systematically. The arguments are developed with reference to the most ambitious and comprehensive democracy measurement project yet: Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem).
Mathias Koenig-Archibugi, Who Are the People? Defining the Demos in the Measurement of Democracy, Political Studies, 2020.