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Democracy in a Global Emergency

Five Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Afsoun Afsahi, Emily Beausoleil, Rikki Dean, Selen A. Ercan, and Jean-Paul Gagnon

Abstract

As countries around the world went into lockdown, we turned to 32 leading scholars working on different aspects of democracy and asked them what they think about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted democracy. In this article, we synthesize the reflections of these scholars and present five key insights about the prospects and challenges of enacting democracy both during and after the pandemic: (1) COVID-19 has had corrosive effects on already endangered democratic institutions, (2) COVID-19 has revealed alternative possibilities for democratic politics in the state of emergency, (3) COVID-19 has amplified the inequalities and injustices within democracies, (4) COVID-19 has demonstrated the need for institutional infrastructure for prolonged solidarity, and (5) COVID-19 has highlighted the predominance of the nation-state and its limitations. Collectively, these insights open up important normative and practical questions about what democracy should look like in the face of an emergency and what we might expect it to achieve under such circumstances.

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The Democracy of Everyday Life in Disaster

Holding Our Lives in Their Hands

Nancy L. Rosenblum

Abstract

Neighbors inhabit a distinct social sphere whose regulative ideal is the democracy of everyday life. Its chief elements are reciprocity and a practical disregard for the differences and inequalities that shape interactions in the broader society and in democratic politics. The democracy of everyday life has heightened significance during disasters. Neighbors hold our lives in their hands. But COVID-19 differs from physical disasters in ways that alter neighbor interactions. Contamination makes relations more fearful at the same time that isolation makes them more valuable. When the meaning attributed to the virus is not shared experience of disease and mortality but rabid partisanship, neighbor relations become distorted. This degradation of the democracy of everyday life signals that democracy itself is imperiled more deeply than political paralysis, corruption, and institutional failure suggest.

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Durkheim en réunion (1ère partie)

Ses interventions à l'Assemblée des professeurs de la Faculté de Lettres de Bordeaux (1887–1902)

Matthieu Béra

Abstract

Thanks to an original archive, this article aims to characterize Durkheim's interventions at the Council of Professors in Bordeaux from 1887 to 1902. Frequency, tonality and above all the subjects of interest of his interventions are studied. We are able to see that he paid great attention to the students and their education (i.e. their courses, fees, grants, the problem of the predominance of Latin, proposals for reform of the competitive agrégation in philosophy) but that he was also interested in administrative subjects (modalities of attribution of new courses and new chairs, procedures of the council) and research subjects (subscriptions for the university library, life of the historical and local Annales du Midi). We finally discover that he certainly had administrative ambitions – to become the dean – ended by political circumstances (the Dreyfus Affair).

Résumé

Cet article vise à caractériser les interventions de Durkheim aux assemblées des professeurs de la Faculté de Lettres de l'université de Bordeaux entre 1887 et 1902 en se référent à une archive inédite. Sont présentées les fréquences, la tonalité et surtout ses domaines d'interventions. On voit qu'il s'intéresse d'abord aux étudiants et à leurs études (ouverture ou fermeture des cours, attribution des bourses, droits d'inscription, problème de la prédominance du latin, réforme de l'agrégation de philosophie), mais aussi aux questions administratives (attribution des chaires, fonctionnement du conseil de l'université), et aux questions liées à la recherche (abonnements en revues à la Bibliothèque universitaire, vie de la revue antiquisante des Annales du midi). On découvre qu'il n'était pas dépourvu d'ambitions administratives, que les circonstances politiques (l'affaire Dreyfus) vinrent contrarier.

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Antoine Savoye

Abstract

Despite the ostracism he maintained towards them, Le Play's social science continuers did not ignore Durkheim's work and commented on it – even if laconically – in their journals. The LePlayists loyal to the master's orthodoxy raised the same grievances against Durkheim throughout his academic life. They refused to accept his conception of the social fact as superior and prior to the individual, imposing itself on him with a coercive force. Their criticisms, however, were less virulent after Durkheim's death, as sociology proved a sustainable science whose project had become irrefutable. With the dissident LePlayists, the view is different. Emerging later, it dealt with the object of sociology and the method advocated by the author of the Règles. From the Tourvillians’ point of view, Durkheim's sociology does not adopt the best path for social science (investigation by direct observation), and neglects its process of coordination of social facts (the nomenclature developed by Tourville). Consequently, Durkheim's results are questionable. The debate the Tourvillians wanted to have with Durkheim took place post mortem, thanks to Bouglé and his students from the Centre de documentation sociale, and their engagement, in the 1930s, with Durkheimian sociology and social science.

Résumé

En dépit de l'ostracisme de Durkheim à leur égard, les représentants de la science sociale issue de Le Play n'ont pas ignoré son œuvre et l'ont commentée – même si laconiquement – dans leurs périodiques, d'une part, La Réforme sociale, d'autre part, La Science sociale et ses dérivés.

Les leplaysiens restés dans l'orthodoxie du maître nourrissent – de la Division du travail social aux Fondements élémentaires de la vie religieuse – les mêmes griefs à l'encontre de Durkheim. Volontiers polémiques, ils refusent sa conception du fait social qui, « supérieur et antérieur à l'individu … s'impose à lui avec une force coercitive prépondérante » (Clément, 1915). Leurs critiques perdent cependant de leur virulence après la mort de Durkheim, au fur et à mesure que la sociologie s'avère une science durable dont le projet devient irréfutable.

Du côté des partisans de la science sociale renouvelée par Henri de Tourville, l'appréciation de Durkheim est différente. Plus tardive, elle porte sur l'objet de la sociologie et sur la méthode prônée par l'auteur des Règles. Aux yeux des tourvilliens, celui-ci n'emprunte pas, à tort, la « voie royale » de la science sociale : l'enquête par observation directe, et néglige l'outil de coordination des faits sociaux qu'est la nomenclature mise au point par Tourville. Dès lors, les résultats auxquels aboutit Durkheim, par exemple dans les Fondements, sont sujets à caution (Descamps, 1912). La critique des tourvilliens est d'autant plus vive qu'elle se nourrit d'un dépit : Durkheim ne fait aucun cas de leurs travaux (Périer, 1913). Le débat qu'ils auraient souhaité engager n'aura lieu que post mortem, grâce à Bouglé et ses élèves du Centre de documentation sociale (Aron, Polin) qui joueront le jeu, dans les années trente, de la confrontation entre sociologie et science sociale.

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Jean-Christophe Marcel, Matthieu Béra, Jean-François Bert, and François Pizarro Noël

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Ulrike Guérot and Michael Hunklinger

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In the past 70 years, situations that featured a lack of solidarity were always followed by the communitization of structures in the European Union. This contribution reflects on possible consequences of the COVID-19 crisis for the European Union. Even though the initial response from the EU looked unpromising and was driven at the nation-state level, the crisis may lead to new forms of solidarity through communitization. We argue that the EU needs equality for all EU citizens as well as institutionalized solidarity in order to finally become a real European democracy.

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Gender, Leadership and Representative Democracy

The Differential Impacts of the Global Pandemic

Kim Rubenstein, Trish Bergin, and Pia Rowe

Abstract

That effective leadership is crucial during global emergencies is uncontested. However what that leadership looks like, and how it plays out in different contexts is less straightforward. In representative democracy, diversity is considered to be a key element for true representation of the society. In addition, previous research has unequivocally demonstrated the positive impacts of gender equality in leadership. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare some of the real world implications of gender inequalities in the leadership context. In this article, we examine the differential impacts of COVID-19 on women, and reflect on potential pathways for women's active participation.

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Georges Dumas et Marcel Mauss

Rapports réels et pratiques entre la psychologie et la sociologie

Marcia Consolim

Abstract

This article discusses the relationships between sociology and psychology through the dialogue between Georges Dumas and Marcel Mauss about the expression of emotions during the 1920s. Firstly, the aim is to show the affinities of their engagements concerning the disputes between human sciences and philosophy. Secondly, from an analysis of their trajectories, the aim is to show that the positions taken in the debates are associated with the positions psychologists and sociologists took inside the academic field from 1900 to 1930. Finally, the article aims to show that the dialogue between Mauss and Dumas reveals a process of sociologization of psychology rather than a psychologization of sociology, which has produced criticism from psychologists aiming to regain their lost position and from sociologists from the new generation aiming to overcome Durkheimian sociology.

Résumé

Il s'agit de discuter les rapports entre la sociologie et la psychologie à travers le dialogue entre Georges Dumas et Marcel Mauss au long des années 1920 sur l'expression des émotions et des sentiments. Le but est d'abord de montrer les affinités entre leurs engagements concernant les combats des sciences de l'homme contre la philosophie. Ensuite, à partir d'une analyse de leurs trajectoires, d'argumenter que leurs prises de position dans ce débat sont associées aux positions que les psychologues et les sociologues ont occupées dans le champ académique entre les années 1900 et 1930. Finalement, il s'agira de montrer que le dialogue entre Mauss et Dumas révèle la sociologisation de la psychologie plutôt que la psychologisation de la sociologie, et que les critiques faites à ce dialogue par les psychologues visent à regagner de l'espace perdu, alors que celles des sociologues de la nouvelle génération visent plutôt à dépasser la sociologie durkheimienne qui inspire ce dialogue.

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Lauri Rapeli and Inga Saikkonen

Abstract

In this commentary, we discuss some possible effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in both established and newer democracies. We expect that the pandemic will not have grave long-term effects on established democracies. We assess the future of democracy after COVID-19 in terms of immediate effects on current democratic leaders, and speculate on the long-term effects on support for democratic institutions and principles. We also discuss possible implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global trends in democratic backsliding. We predict that, in the short term, the repercussions of the pandemic can aggravate the situation in countries that are already experiencing democratic erosion. However, the long term economic effects of the pandemic may be more detrimental to non-democratic governance.

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

The Rise of Autocracy and Democratic Resilience

Petra Guasti

Abstract

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.