1st Edition

The Condition of Democracy Volume 1: Neoliberal Politics and Sociological Perspectives

Edited By Jürgen Mackert, Hannah Wolf, Bryan S. Turner Copyright 2021
    198 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    198 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Recent years have seen contestations of democracy all around the globe. Democracy is challenged as a political as well as a normative term, and as a form of governance. Against the background of neoliberal transformation, populist mobilization, and xenophobic exclusion, but also of radical and emancipatory democratic projects, this collection offers a variety of critical and challenging perspectives on the condition of democracy in the 21st century.

    The volumes provide theoretical and empirical enquiries into the meaning and practice of liberal democracy, the erosion of democratic institutions, and the consequences for citizenship and everyday lives. With a pronounced focus on national and transnational politics and processes, as well as postcolonial and settler colonial contexts, individual contributions scrutinize the role of democratic societies, ideals, and ideologies of liberal democracy within global power geometries. By employing the multiple meanings of The Condition of Democracy, the collection addresses the preconditions of democratic rule, the state this form of governance is in, and the changing ways in which citizens can (still) act as the sovereign in liberal democratic societies.

    The books offer both challenging theoretical perspectives and rigorous empirical findings of how to conceive of democracy in our times, which will appeal to academics and students in social and political science, economics, and international relations amongst other fields. The focus on developments in the Middle East and North Africa will furthermore be of great usefulness to academics and the wider public interested in the repercussions of western democracy promotion as well as in contemporary struggles for democratization ‘from below’.

    During the last 50 years, liberal democracies have been exposed to a fundamental reorganization of their politico-economic structure that transformed them through the impact of neo-liberal economic doctrines focused on low taxation, free markets, and out-sourcing that have little regard in reality for democratic institutions or liberal values. The failures of the neoliberal ‘remedy’ for capitalism are now dramatically obvious through the banking crisis of 2008-2011, the increase in income inequality, the social and psychological damage caused by the austerity packages across Europe, and widespread dependence on experts whose influence over government policies typically goes without public scrutiny. While this has only accelerated the destruction of the social fabric in modern Western societies, the dramatic redistribution of wealth and an open 'politics for the rich' have also revealed the long-time well-covered alliance of the global oligarchy with the Far Right that has the effect of undermining democracy. The contributions to this volume discuss a wide variety of processes of transformation, the social consequences, dedemocratization and illiberalization of once liberal democracies through the destructive impact of neoliberal strategies. These strongly politico-economic contributions are complemented with general sociological analyses of a number of cultural aspects often neglected in analyses of democracy.

    Introduction: Waves of Democracy

    Bryan S. Turner

    Part 1: Neoliberalism and the Meltdown of Democratic Life

    1. Enchaining Democracy: The Now-Transnational Project of the US Corporate Libertarian Right

    Nancy MacLean

    2. Ordoliberalism, Authoritarianism, and Democracy

    Thomas Biebricher

    3. Toward a Predistributive Democracy: Diagnosing Oligarchy, Dedemocratization, and the Deceits of Market Justice

    Margaret R. Somers

    4. The Politics of Bailing-Out the Rich: The Role of ‘Systemic Importance’ Within the European Banking Union

    Andreas Kallert

    5. Democratization or Politicization? The Changing Face of Political-Economic Expertise in European Expert Groups, 1966-2017

    Christian Schmidt-Wellenburg

    Part 2: Sociological Perspectives on Liberal Democracy

    6. The Ideology of Anti-Populism and the Administrative State

    Stephen Turner

    7. Roman Catholicism and Democracy: Internal Conservatism and External Liberalism?

    Rosario Forlenza and Bryan S. Turner

    8. Breaking Bad: The Crisis of Democracy in the Age of Digital Culture

    Tibor Dessewffy


    Jürgen Mackert is Professor of Sociology and co-director of the ‘Centre for Citizenship, Social Pluralism and Religious Diversity' at Potsdam University, Germany. His research interests include sociology of citizenship, political economy, closure theory, and collective violence. Recent publication: Social life as collective struggle: Closure theory and the problem of solidarity, SOZIALPOLITIK.CH (2021).

    Hannah Wolf is a Researcher and Lecturer at the Chair for General Sociology at the University of Potsdam, and associate member at the DFG-collaborative research centre "Re-Figuration of Spaces". Her research interests include urban sociology, theories of space and place, and citizenship studies. Latest publication: Am Ende der Globalisierung: Über die Refiguration von Räumen (ed. with Martina Löw, Volkan Sayman and, Jona Schwerer), 2021, transcript.

    Bryan S. Turner is Research Professor of Sociology at the Australian Catholic University (Sydney), Emeritus Professor at the Graduate Center CUNY, Honorary Max Planck Professor at Potsdam University, Germany, and Research Fellow at the Edward Cadbury Center, University of Birmingham, UK. He holds a Cambridge Litt.D. In 2020 with Rob Stones he published 'Successful Societies: Decision-making and the quality of attentiveness', British Journal of Sociology, 71(1), 183–202.

    "Thought-provoking, thorough, meaningful and urgently argued, The Condition of Democracy speaks to the crisis of democracy from a range of perspectives. As such, it appeals to a wide readership across disciplines and will engage scholars and students alike. I can strongly recommend this book."

    Peo Hansen, Professor of Political Science at REMESO, Linköping University

    "The current volume, Neoliberal Politics and Sociological Perspectives, is the first of the three volumes of The Condition of Democracy, edited by members of Potsdam University’s formidable Centre for Citizenship, Social Pluralism and Religious Diversity. The Centre has developed a deserved reputation for fostering the highest level of inter-disciplinary exchange, reflection and debate around the most consequential transformations of our time. This volume is no exception. The contributions are characterised by eloquent and penetrating conceptual categories that are put to work in empirical analyses of specialised fields focused around political economy, networks of ‘truth’ and representation, and the social bases of political ideology. The chapters interweave and interlock to powerfully illuminate the forces that are currently impeding and corroding the foundations of democracy."

    Rob Stones, Professor of Sociology, School of Social Sciences, Western Sydney University