Reviving democracy: Creating pathways out of legitimacy crises

European Journal of Political Theory 22 (1):181-191 (2023)
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Abstract

Over the last several years, democratic citizens and theorists have been grappling with an upsurge in political commentary on the crisis and decline of democratic legitimacy around the world. Increasingly, theoretical attention is turning from the philosophical justification of ambitious moral ideals of democracy, to the interpretation of potentials within existing political practice for democratic renewal and repair. This review article examines three new books at the forefront of this theoretical turn towards engagement with the real-world political dynamics of democratic crisis and revival: Open Democracy by Hélène Landemore; Hope for Democracy by John Gastil and Katherine Knobloch; and Mending Democracy by Carolyn Hendriks, Selen Ercan and John Boswell. It begins by surveying the new contributions of these books – highlighting the importance all attribute to creative political agency as a source of revival in democratic practice. It then discusses several questions left unresolved by these books – concerning the problem of democratic legitimacy, the normativity of democratic standards and the power dynamics undergirding democratic agency – which jointly mark out an important agenda for future theoretical work on pathways out of democratic crisis.

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References found in this work

Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
Justice, Legitimacy, and (Normative) Authority for Political Realists.Enzo Rossi - 2012 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 15 (2):149-164.
Legitimacy in Realist Thought.Matt Sleat - 2014 - Political Theory 42 (3):314-337.
Language and legitimacy: Is pragmatist political theory fallacious?Thomas Fossen - 2019 - European Journal of Political Theory 18 (2):293-305.

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