Nadia Urbaniti, a professor in the political science department here, just published a book, Representative Democracy: Principles and Genealogy, with the following thesis:
It is usually held that representative government is not strictly democratic, since it does not allow the people themselves to directly make decisions. But here, taking as her guide Thomas Paine’s subversive view that “Athens, by representation, would have surpassed her own democracy,” Nadia Urbinati challenges this accepted wisdom, arguing that political representation deserves to be regarded as a fully legitimate mode of democratic decision-making-and not just a pragmatic second choice when direct democracy is not possible.
I haven’t read the book yet, but, based on this abstract, I like what I see so far. My impression from the work in social and cognitive psychology on information aggregation is that representative democracy will work better than dictatorship or pure democracy. (See also the discussion here of democracy and its alternatives.)