How can we theorize about democracy? We can identify the major topics that form the focus of democratic theorists (and others traversing the field), such as democracy’s meaning and value. This article focuses on the methodological lenses through which the topics have been and can be viewed. Different lenses bring into focus different phenomena, questions, and problems of democracy. It is argued that the lenses that bring conventional democratic theory approaches into view can provide an unnecessarily narrow and restrictive perspective. Donning different methodological lenses can introduce alternative perspectives, such as renewed attention to value pluralism and the “everyday.” The article sketches four “circles” that capture different potential types of and sources for theoretical work, some of them radically unconventional. It concludes by discussing the specific example of how methods and assumptions of design theory can prompt promising new approaches to theorizing about democracy.
A Focus on the History of Concepts
articles that follow derive their case studies from different historiographical traditions, are focused on different historical contexts, and are addressed to different audiences. However, all three draw their theoretical and methodological innovation from
Annabel Brett, Fabian Steininger, Tobias Adler-Bartels, Juan Pablo Scarfi, and Jan Surman
an Interdisciplinary Conceptual History” (2008–2019). 3 While the authors hold back on theoretical discussions, which would also hardly be manageable limited as they are by the number of pages for each contributions, some methodological innovations
State of the Art
step toward reducing these tensions and working toward a global approach would be for conceptual historians working on different regions to take account of the theoretical and methodological innovations accomplished by scholars working on other, in this