Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice

Democratic Theory through an Agonistic Lens

in Democratic Theory
Marie Paxton Westminster College, Salt Lake City

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This article seeks to explore democratic theory by focusing on the example of agonistic democracy, in which contest between citizens is valued for its potential to render politics more inclusive, more engaging, and more virtuous. Using Connolly and Tully's inclusivism, Chantal Mouffe's adversarialism, and David Owen's perfectionism, the article discusses democratic theory as a critique, a series of normative proposals, and a potential bridge between political theory and public policy. It is this bridge that enables democratic theory to pull together critical and normative discussions with those surrounding public policy and institutional design.

Contributor Notes

Marie Paxton Staniforth is an assistant professor of political science at Westminster College, Salt Lake City. E-mail:

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Democratic Theory

An Interdisciplinary Journal

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