Political Theory 43 (6):707-729 (2015)

Rather than think about citizenship in minimal terms, I argue for a more aspirational “bearing” of the public self, one appropriate for the challenges of globalizing, late-modern political life. For left democratic theory this is hardly an abstract issue, given how successful groups like the Tea Party have been in articulating a right-leaning aspirational portrait. What might a counter-portrait look like that was comparably scripted for the middle classes in affluent liberal democracies? An answer is not immediately clear, given that left democratic theory’s attention has been traditionally focused on an overly simple, two-entity social ontology: elites and demos. The question I consider is what script might be articulated for middle segments of society in relation to how they should bear themselves toward less advantaged segments of society? This does not replace thinking about the demos, but rather supplements it with reflection on the complex alignments of contemporary political life.
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DOI 10.1177/0090591715586205
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