What is democratic theory? In this article we treat it as a semiotic code – that is to say, a shared assumption – and argue that democratic theory enables people to think and talk about the idea(s) of democracy. Furthermore, the application of this specific code is highly political. For one, it is embedded in concrete contexts and discourses and used in arguments and narratives. In addition, the application of democratic theory has also substantial consequences on the lives of people. We illustrate this argument by reflecting briefly on Abraham Lincoln's “Gettysburg Address” and its recodification and consequences in different contexts.
Christian Ewert is a postdoctoral fellow and assistant to the chair of democracy and public governance at the University of Zurich. E-mail: Christian.Ewert@uzh.ch
Marion Repetti is professor at the School of Social Work, HES-SO, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Collier, David, Fernando DanielHidalgo, and Andra OliviaMaciuceanu. 2006. “Essentially Contested Concepts: Debates and Applications.” Journal of Political Ideologies11 (3): 211–246. https://doi.org/10.1080/13569310600923782
Collier, David, Fernando DanielHidalgo, and Andra OliviaMaciuceanu. 2006. “Essentially Contested Concepts: Debates and Applications.” Journal of Political Ideologies 11 (3): 211–246. https://doi.org/10.1080/1356931060092378210.1080/13569310600923782)| false
Sørensen, Eva, and JacobTorfing. 2005. “The Democratic Anchorage of Governance Networks.” Scandinavian Political Studies 28 (3): 195–218. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9477.2005.00129.x10.1111/j.1467-9477.2005.00129.x)| false