Over the next months, Items will publish essays based on research presented at a spring workshop on the theme “Democratic Participation: A Broken Promise?” cosponsored by the SSRC’s Anxieties of Democracy program’s Participation group and the German-based Democratic Anxieties. Claudia Landwehr, co-organizer of Democratic Anxieties, describes the fraught efforts of democracy to deal with “disturbances”—deep tensions that put at risk agreement on democratic procedures and the norms of reciprocity that undergird it. Landwehr argues for practices of “meta-deliberation” to draw publics into discussion about the norms through which reciprocity and procedural consensus are produced.
Can representative democracies be strengthened to govern more effectively? The SSRC’s Anxieties of Democracy (AOD) program is motivated by a concern about whether the core institutions of established democracies that connect citizens and civil society to the political system—elections, mass media, political parties, interest groups, social movements, and, especially, legislatures—can capably address large problems in the public interest. The Democracy Papers makes available short essays and works-in-progress from the events AOD organizes and the broad network of scholars and practitioners it mobilizes. Previously located on AOD’s website, past Democracy Papers are available there while new ones will be published as part of SSRC’s Items essay forum.
Over the next months, Items will publish essays based on research presented at a spring workshop on the theme “Democratic Participation: A Broken Promise?” cosponsored by the SSRC’s Anxieties of Democracy program’s Participation group and the German-based Democratic Anxieties. Here, Larry Bartels, cochair of the AOD Participation group, draws on recent work on the extent to which established democracies are disproportionately responsive to the preferences of their wealthiest citizens. While this is not news for observers of the United States, Bartels finds very similar patterns across what are often assumed to be the more egalitarian democracies of Europe.