Democratic Theory

An Interdisciplinary Journal

Emily Beausoleil, Victoria University of Wellington

Jean-Paul Gagnon, University of Canberra

Subjects: Political Theory

Call for Papers: Democratising the Economy: Democratic Theory meets Critical Political Economy


Latest Issue Table of Contents

Volume 10 (2023): Issue 2 (Dec 2023): Democratic Self-transformations: Identity, Performance, and the Politics of Becoming. Guest Editors: Hans Asenbaum and Taina Meriluoto

Democratic Theory
Volume 11, Issue 1
Table of Contents


How to Democratize the Economy: Combine Democratic Theory and Critical Political Economy
Nick Vlahos, Adrian Bua, and Jean-Paul Gagnon

Worker Cooperatives for a Democratic Economy: A Conversation with Critical Theory
Neal Harris and Robin Jervis

Democratizing the Extended State: Public Enterprise Constraints and Capacities
Heather Whiteside and Stephen McBride

Democratizing Essential Reliance Systems: Participation and Social Reproduction in the Foundational Economy
Bernd Bonfert

An Infrastructural Pathway to Degrowth: The Role of Deliberation
Daniel Durrant and Tom Cohen

Democracy, Participation and Capitalist Crisis: An Interview with Nancy Fraser
Nancy Fraser, Adrian Bua, and Nick Vlahos

Volume 11 / 2024, 2 issues per volume (summer, winter)

Aims & Scope

Democratic Theory is a peer-reviewed journal published and distributed by Berghahn. It encourages philosophical and interdisciplinary contributions that critically explore democratic theory—in all its forms. Spanning a range of views, the journal offers a cross-disciplinary forum for diverse theoretical questions to be put forward and systematically examined. It advances non-Western as well as Western ideas and is actively based on the premise that there are many forms of democracies and many types of democrats.

As a forum for debate, the journal challenges theorists to ask and answer the perennial questions that plague the field of democratization studies:

  • Why is democracy so prominent in the world today?
  • What is the meaning of democracy?
  • Will democracy continue to expand?
  • Are current forms of democracy sufficient to give voice to “the people” in an increasingly fragmented and divided world?
  • Who leads in democracy?
  • What types of non-Western democratic theories are there?
  • Should democrats always defend democracy?
  • Should democrats be fearful of de-democratization, post-democracies, and the rise of hybridized regimes?  

For too long, the discourse of democracy has been colonized and predetermined by the West. Now more than ever there is a need to globalize—and by extension democratize—how we think about democracy: Democratic Theory provides the means for these essential debates to germinate and develop.

Democratic Theory is now ranked in the Australian Political Studies Association's 2016 Preferred Journal List.

Open Access

Democratic Theory is published as an Open Access journal as of 2021. 


Democratic Theory is indexed/abstracted in:

  • Scopus (Elsevier) - Rankings: Q1 in Philosophy and a Q1 in Sociology and Politics
  • IBR – International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature on the Humanities and Social Sciences (De Gruyter)
  • IBZ – International Bibliography of Periodical Literature (De Gruyter)
  • Emerging Sources Citation Index (Web of Science)
  • European Reference Index for the Humanities and the Social Sciences (ERIH PLUS)
  • Australian Political Studies Association's Preferred Journal List

Emily Beausoleil, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
Jean-Paul Gagnon, University of Canberra, Australia

Associate Editors:
Hans Asenbaum, Univeristy of Canberra, Australia
Gergana Dimova, Oxford University, UK
Selen A. Ercan, Univeristy of Canberra, Australia
Dannica Fleuss, Helmut Schmidt University, Germany

Social Media Editor:
Petra Guasti, Charles University, Czech Republic

Impact Editor:
Taina Meriluoto, University of Helsinki, Finland

Andre Baechtiger, University of Stuttgart, Germany
Simone Chambers, University of Toronto, Canada
John Dryzek, University of Canberra, Australia
John Dunn, King’s College, Cambridge University, UK
Robyn Eckersley, University of Melbourne, Australia
Henry A. Giroux, McMaster University, Canada
Kimmo Gronlund, Abo Akademi, Finland
Baogang He, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Ramin Jahanbegloo, York University, Canada
John Keane, University of Sydney, Australia
Sungmoon Kim, City University of Hong Kong
Adrian Little, University of Melbourne, Australia
Brian Loader, Oxford University, UK
Nancy S. Love, Appalachian State University, USA
Godwin Onuoha, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Michael Saward, Warwick University, UK
Nadia Urbinati, Columbia University, USA
Lawrence Whitehead, Oxford University, UK

Hans Asenbaum, Potsdam University, Germany
Jeffrey Berejikian, University of Georgia, USA
Udit Bhatia, Oxford University, UK
Dan Bray, La Trobe University, Australia
Quinlan Bowman, Duke Kunshan University, China/Duke University, USA
Frank Cunningham, Emeritus, University of Toronto, Canada
Nicole Curato, University of Canberra, Australia
Rikki Dean, Goethe University, Germany
Gergana Dimova, University of Winchester, UK
Albert W. Dzur, Bowling Green State University, USA
Stephen Elstub, University of the West of Scotland, UK
Lina Eriksson, Flinders University, Australia
Eva Erman, Uppsala University, Sweden
Katherine Fierlbeck, Dalhousie University, Canada
Dannica Fleuss, Helmut Schmidt Universitat, Germany
Edmund Fung, University of Western Sydney, Australia
Benjamin Isakhan, Deakin University, Australia
Pauline Keating, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
Sonny Lo, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong
Spencer MacKay, University of British Columbia, Canada
Kyong-Min Son, University of Delaware, USA
Philip A. Michelbach, West Virginia University, USA
Alfred Moore, University of York, UK
Sana Nakata, University of Melbourne, Australia
Giovanni Navaria, University of Sydney, Australia
Aleksandar Pavkovic, Macquarie University, Australia
Thamy Pogrebinschi, Wissenschaftzentrum Berlin (WZB), Germany
Peter Radan, Macquarie University, Australia
Jemima Repo, University of Helsinki, Finland
Steven Rosow, SUNY Oswego, USA
Marian Sawer, Emeritus, Australian National University, Australia
Irwin P. Stotzky, University of Miami, USA
Bernhard Wessels, Wissenschaftzentrum Berlin (WZB), Germany
Jonathan P. White, London School of Economics, UK
Steven L. Winter, Wayne State University, USA
Lea Ypi, London School of Economics, UK

Founding Editors:
Mark Chou, Australian Catholic University, Australia
Jean-Paul Gagnon, University of Canberra, Australia

In Kind Thanks and Memoriam
L.H.M. Ling, The New School, USA
David Held, Durham University, UK


Manuscript Submission

Due to the large number of planned special issues, Democratic Theory can, until further notice, no longer accept unsolicited single paper submissions. Instead we invite proposals for special issues, on topics that speak to current and significant themes, debates, or developments in democratic scholarship.

From 2025, all proposed contributors for special issues must include close to half (50%) female authorship and close to one third (33%) authorship from BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, disability, global south, or other communities systemically underrepresented in academic publication. We welcome a pre-submission discussion with you about this, to assist in meeting these requirements.

View Guest Editor Guidelines here.

Books for review are welcome and should be sent to both editors and the book reviews editor (three copies total; digital format preferred) as they may be included in future special issues as symposia or critical review essays.

To submit a manuscript for consideration for a special issue:

Please review the submission and style guidelines carefully before submitting.

After registering a user account or logging into the system, authors should submit articles and reviews to the Democratic Theory submission system at

Democratic Theory welcomes submissions under any of the five categories of contributions:

  1. Research articles of between 6,000 and 8,000 words in length, inclusive of references
  2. Excerpts of interviews of no more than 5,000 words in length, conducted with leading democratic theorists
  3. Critical commentaries and debates of no more than 3,000 words in length, relating to pressing contemporary issues or themes raised in previous issues
  4. Review essays of between 4,000 and 5,000 words in length, engaging the latest scholarly and popular works in democratic theory
  5. Research notes of no more than 5,000 words in length, presenting a vital theory, conception, model, or practice of democracy (can be historical)

Each submission must be accompanied by an abstract of no more than 150 words, 6 keywords ordered alphabetically, and a biographical sketch indicating each author's institutional affiliation, research interests, and important activities and publications. Clearly note contact details (including e-mail and mailing address) up to the planned date of publication.

Have other questions? Please refer to the Berghahn Info for Authors page for general information and guidelines, including topics such as article usage and permissions for Berghahn journal article authors.

Peer Review

Democratic Theory is operated through a three-stage review process:

  1. All submissions will be read by both editors. This initial review will assess whether the submission is of sufficient quality and relevance to send out for blind peer review.
  2. Should the editors deem the submission of sufficient quality and relevance, they will then send it out for formal peer review. At this stage, each submission will be sent to at least two qualified scholars, who will be comprised of members of the steering committee, editorial board, or external experts should this be required.
  3. Once the reviews have been returned, the editors will then determine whether the submission can be (a) published without corrections; (b) published with minor corrections; (c) revised and resubmitted; or (d) rejected. Submissions that fall into category (b) will be given up to four weeks to finalize revisions. Submissions that fall into category (c) will be given up to eight weeks to finalize revisions. They will then be resubmitted to at least one of the original blind referees and both Editors. A final decision will be made two weeks after this final submission takes place.

Ethics Statement

Authors published in Democratic Theory certify that their works are original and their own. The editors certify that all materials, with the possible exception of editorial introductions, book reviews, and some types of commentary, have been subjected to double-blind peer review by qualified scholars in the field. While the publishers and the editorial board make every effort to see that no inaccurate or misleading data, opinions or statements appear in this journal, they wish to make it clear that the data and opinions appearing in the articles herein are the sole responsibility of the contributor concerned. For a more detailed explanation concerning these qualifications and responsibilities, please see the complete Democratic Theory ethics statement.

Annual Subscriptions

Volume 11/2024, 2 issues p.a. (summer, winter) 
ISSN 2332-8894 (Print) • ISSN 2332-8908 (Online) 
(rates include handling & surface postage)

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Open Access

Democratic Theory will be a Subscribe-to-Open (S2O) title in 2024.

2024 Pricing

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Democratic Theory is published as an Open Access journal as of 2021.


Democracy seems to be inextricably linked to crisis. This is true since the ancient writings of Plato and Aristotle. More recently, the debate over the crisis of democracy goes on under the heading of “postdemocracy.” This article addresses the question of whether the crisis of democracy is an invention of theoretically complex but empirically ignorant theorists who adhere to an excessively normative ideal of democracy, on three levels: first, on the level of quality of democracy indices developed by experts; second, on the basis of the survey reports on the opinion of the demos; third, on a deeper analyses of crucial spheres of democracy. The results hint in different directions. According to expert indices and polls, the message is: there is no crisis of democracy. However, the partial analyses on participation, representation, and effective power to govern reveal unresolved democratic challenges, such as an increasing level of exclusion of the lower third of the demos from participation, an inferior representation of their interests, and a loss of democratic sovereignty in policy making.

The Crisis of Democracy

Which Crisis? Which Democracy?

The introductory article to this special issue highlights three fundamental yet often neglected questions related to the current diagnosis of a crisis of democracy: What is meant by the term “crisis”? Which democracy is in crisis? And what, if anything, is “new” about the current crisis of democracy? We answer these questions by considering the multi-vocal contribution of purposefully curated short articles in this special issue. We argue that when engaging with the “crisis of democracy” diagnosis, it is important to unpack not only the normative presumptions one has in relation to what democracy is and should be, but also the recent transformations in the way politics is understood and practiced in contemporary societies.

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Central and Eastern Europe

The Rise of Autocracy and Democratic Resilience



The COVID-19 pandemic represents a new and unparalleled stress-test for the already disrupted liberal-representative, democracies. The challenges cluster around three democratic disfigurations: technocracy, populism, and plebiscitarianism—each have the potential to contribute to democratic decay. Still, they can also trigger pushback against illiberalism mobilizing citizens in defense of democracy, toward democratic resilience. This article looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic affects democratic decay and democratic resilience in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). It finds varied responses to the COVID-19 crisis by the CEE populist leaders and identifies two patterns: the rise of autocracy and democratic resilience. First, in Hungary and Poland, the populist leaders instrumentalized the state of emergency to increase executive aggrandizement. Second, in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, democracy proved resilient. The COVID-19 pandemic alone is not fostering the rise of authoritarianism. However, it does accentuate existing democratic disfigurations.

While the rise of populism in Western Europe over the past three decades has received a great deal of attention in the academic and popular literature, less attention has been paid to the rise of its opposite— anti-populism. This short article examines the discursive and stylistic dimensions of the construction and maintenance of the populism/anti-populism divide in Western Europe, paying particular attention to how anti-populists seek to discredit populist leaders, parties and followers. It argues that this divide is increasingly antagonistic, with both sides of the divide putting forward extremely different conceptions of how democracy should operate in the Western European political landscape: one radical and popular, the other liberal. It closes by suggesting that what is subsumed and feared under the label of the “populist threat” to democracy in Western Europe today is less about populism than nationalism and nativism.


This article looks closely at the “crisis of representative democracy,” noting that this crisis is evident across the main variables of interest to political scientists (voting, party membership, trust in politicians, and interest in mainstream politics). The argument here is that the crisis is located not only in short term or contingent factors such as financial crisis, the decadence of the current generation of politicians or the emergence of New Public Management—which often appear as the villains of the piece. It is also located in long term and structural factors linked to the types of social and political interaction associated with “first modernity.” With the displacement of this temporality under post-Fordist, reflexive or “second” modernity, we are witnessing a different set of dynamics shape the terrain of politics. Globalization, individualization, and the proliferation of communicative platforms is taking us away from “vertical” interactions in which representative politics is typical, toward more distributed, flatter, or “horizontal” modes of sociality, working, and organizing—leaving us in a “post-representative” political moment.