Agonistic Democracy: Rethinking Democratic Institutions in Pluralist Times, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Agonistic Democracy

Rethinking Democratic Institutions in Pluralist Times, 1st Edition

By Marie Paxton


208 pages

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Hardback: 9781138354043
pub: 2019-12-01
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Agonistic Democracy explores how theoretical concepts from agonistic democracy can inform institutional design in order to mediate conflict in multicultural, pluralist societies.

Drawing on the work of Foucault, Nietzsche, Schmitt, and Arendt, Marie Paxton outlines the importance of their themes of public contestation, contingency and necessary interdependency for contemporary agonistic thinkers.  Delineating three distinct approaches to agonistic democracy - Mouffe’s adversarial agonism, William Connolly and James Tully’s inclusive agonism and David Owen’s perfectionist agonism - Paxton demonstrates how each is fundamental to motivating democratic engagement (Mouffe), enhancing relations of respect and understanding between conflicting citizens (Connolly and Tully) and enabling to citizens to cultivate better virtues for themselves and society (Owen). Situated within the context of deep divisions and polarisation in post-Trump America and post-Brexit Britain, Paxton reveals the need to rethink our approach to conflict mediation. Pulling together insights from empirical explorations of agonistic concepts with extant democratic innovations in the deliberative field, Paxton explores how agonistic theory might be institutionalised further.

Demonstrating how developing agonistic institutions can help to render democracy more inclusive, more engaging and better able to cultivate a virtuous society, this book provides a unique resource for students of contemporary political theory.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Why Agonistic Democracy?

Part One: Theoretical Discussion

2. The Theoretical Roots of Agonistic Democracy

3. Three Approaches to Agonistic Democracy

4. Agonism and Institutions

Part Two: Institutional Discussion

5. Agonism and Democratic Innovations

6. Experimenting with Agonistic Frameworks

7. Proposals for Agonistic Institutions

8. Conclusion: Taking the Agonistic Path of Uncertainty

About the Author

Marie Paxton is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Westminster College, Salt Lake City.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Democratic Theory

Advisory Board: Amy Allen (Penn State University), Benjamin Barber (City University of New York), Rajeev Bhargava (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies), Fred Dallmayr (University of Notre Dame), John Keane (University of Sydney), James R. Martel (San Francisco State University), Chantal Mouffe (University of Westminster), Davide Panagia (UCLA), Bhikhu Parekh (House of Lords), and Nadia Urbinati (Columbia University)

Democracy is being re-thought almost everywhere today: with the widespread questioning of the rationalist assumptions of classical liberalism, and the implications this has for representational competition; with the Arab Spring, destabilizing many assumptions about the geographic spread of democracy; with the deficits of democracy apparent in the Euro-zone crisis, especially as it affects the management of budget deficits; with democracy increasingly understand as a process of social empowerment and equalization, blurring the lines of division between formal and informal spheres; and with growing demands for democracy to be reformulated to include the needs of those currently marginalized or even to include the representation of non-human forms of life with whom we share our planet.

Routledge Advances in Democratic Theory publishes state of the art theoretical reflection on the problems and prospects of democratic theory when many of the traditional categories and concepts are being reworked and rethought in our globalized and complex times.

The series is published in cooperation with the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster, London, UK.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Democracy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory