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Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice

Democratic Theory through an Agonistic Lens

Marie Paxton

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.

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Jean-Paul Gagnon and Mark Chou

This general issue of Democratic Theory begins with an important contribution by George Vasilev (La Trobe University) that reflects on Chantal Mouffe’s notion of democratic agonism. Mouffe has, primarily as part of her critique of deliberative democracy, asserted that consensus necessarily creates exclusion. What is important is that democratic dialogue remains open-ended. For her this means that democrats should view themselves as adversaries rather than antagonists who bring discussions to a close. Vasilev critiques Mouffe’s assertion by arguing that she holds a one-sided understanding of consensus that creates a less credible form of adversarial politics. By crafting a “norm of consensus”, Vasilev thus demonstrates that consensus formation can ensure the very condition of democratic freedom itself. In doing this, Vasilev’s argument brings a fresh perspective to ongoing debates in deliberative and agonistic democracy.

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Jeffrey D. Hilmer and Max Halupka

(fugitive democracy), and Chantal Mouffe (agonistic democracy) (131ff.). But they are not without their shortcomings. Participatory theory is increasingly conflated with deliberative theory, thus too narrowly defining political participation (158). It is

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Colonising ‘Free’ Will

A Critique of Political Decolonisation in Ghana

Bernard Forjwuor

the African Peoples against Neocolonialism ’, International Journal of Politics 6 ( 4 ): 12 – 49 . www.jstor.org/stable/27868838?seq=1 Wenman , M. 2013 . Agonistic Democracy: Constituent Power in the Era of Globalisation . Cambridge

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Book Roundtable

Discussion text: Chin, C. 2018. The Practice of Political Theory: Rorty and Continental Thought.

Lasse Thomassen, Joe Hoover, David Owen, Paul Patton, and Clayton Chin

Pragmatism 8 ( 1 ): 115 – 131 . doi: 10.1163/18758185-90000186 . Wenman , M. 2013 . Agonistic Democracy: Constituent Power in the Era of Globalisation . Cambridge : Cambridge University Press .