Power and Democracy
Full course description
This course considers democracy not simply as a set of formal institutions, with voting rules, party organisation, and formal relationships between citizens and representatives. Instead, it looks at democracy as something people do: something enacted, contested, performed, and embodied. It also considers those actions as done in contexts: contexts of unequal power relations, most obviously, but also physical and mediatised contexts, colonial contexts, contexts of gender and workplace relationships. It starts by examining foundational concepts – who “the people” are and how representation works, for instance. It then examines democratic practices and different arenas of democratisation -- the public and private spheres, even knowledge and rationality – before turning to challenges to democracy from Marxist and indigenous perspectives.
The course’s primary objective is to reconstruct the different meanings of power and democracy; develop an understanding of conceptual analysis as a method in political philosophy and history of ideas; and apply those concepts and method to contemporary problems in democratic theory and practice.
• Held, D. (2006). Models of democracy. (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Polity Press