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This word has long been in the dictionary for how things that used to belong to the elitist few now become accessible to the masses : high technologies, medicines, weapons. I seem to have heard said that the Greek Deities were democratized by Christianity’s the Apostle Paul. Still I can never bring myself to using this word like that. You?
I don’t use that word because I’ve never seen it used to mean “to change the power structure to majority rule.” There needs to be a word that means “as accessible to the economic have-nots and the socially unpopular as to those who are rich, beautiful, famous and powerful”, but as we have all observed, “equal protection of the laws” doesn’t even allow a homeless gent to lounge in a warm public library, reading, in mid-winter.
If we consider that power structures are partially (if not substantially) dependent upon who has access to resources, ideas, and so on, this might help recover the apparent ‘improper’ use. When I read RobertB writing “the Apostle Paul democratized the Greek Deities” I read it to mean that because of the Apostle Paul, ‘the majority’ gained greater or more effective access to the Greek Deities such that their power and influence in society increased. I will admit, this particular usage still feels a little tortured if not awkward. But I think DeaconB’s concern is usually not an issue in my mind when the idea of democratizing some thing implies a shift in power, tending towards majority rule, as a result of greater accessibility to the economic have-nots and the socially unpopular.
Perhaps part of the confusion I see here is “democratize” as an action versus “democratization” the results of taking the action (or an embodiment of the view that democracy is a long-term process)?
“They chose to democratize the process of selecting representatives by undertaking a series of votes.”
“The democratization of the voting process has taken years of effort, and the loss of untold thousands of lives.”