Democracy, Political Power, and Authority

Social Research 77 (2):1049-1074 (2010)

Abstract
This article explores the conditions of possibility for democracy through the analysis of power and authority. Political power, as distinct from coercion, is the key to democracy, as a set of institutions for managing conflict. These institutions presuppose authority, which constitutes a performative act that is validated relative to local perceptions of reasonableness. Democratic power constitutes a nonzero-sum institutionalization of conflict reproduced through the structuring of authority relative to certain principles that allow for repeat play, including equality, impartiality and separation of spheres. This presupposes a democratic subject who is restrained and accountable.
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