The article discusses recent challenges and opportunities for democracy. Stressing that the scientific discourse on this topic has to critically consider the various meanings of the concept of democracy, some main narratives on the status of democracy are reviewed, looking at the elements of crisis of representative democracies, but also at the growing importance of democratic qualities promoted in participatory and deliberative conceptions of democracy. Original empirical research on conceptions and practices of democracy in social movements as pre-figurative arenas provides illustrations of the tensions and potentials within the, variously understood, conceptions of democracy. Moreover, some explanations of the different conceptions of democracy are discussed. The author concludes that, if the historical evolution of democracy privileged some specific qualities (related in particular to electoral accountability), the recent difficulties of representative institutions require a reflection on different qualities that, as participation and deliberation, are acquiring new relevance. Adapted from the source document.