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Cristina Grasseni

This article presents qualitative and quantitative findings on provisioning activism in Italy, focusing on Solidarity Purchase Groups (Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale, GAS). By using quantitative data about GAS growth, numerical consistence and economic impact and through ethnographic insights based on prolonged fieldwork, it identifies the GAS movement as an ecological, economic and political counterculture. I discuss the implications for policy efforts at the regional and state level, highlighting both potentials and shortcomings of promoting GAS as means to sustainable development. In particular, I identify the issues of trust, informality and direct democracy as distinctive of GAS practice. However, this positions solidarity economy vis-à-vis policymaking in a potentially oppositional rather than interlocutory stance.

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Daryl Glaser

-making processes exemplify direct democracy, which they contrast favourably to the bureaucratic and hierarchical governing systems not just of the universities but also of elected student councils and university staff unions. The movement’s supporters refuse to

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Incipient “commoning” in defense of the public?

Competing varieties of fiscal citizenship in tax- and spending-related direct democracy

Sandra Morgen and Jennifer Erickson

. Half the US states permit “direct democracy,” or direct votes on public policies either as legislative referrals or measures qualified by citizen mobilization. Oregon’s ballot measure process is widely regarded as one of the most accessible among states

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Spencer McKay

Altman, David. 2018. Citizenship and Contemporary Direct Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dyck, Joshua, and Edward Lascher. 2019. Initiatives without Engagement: A Realistic Appraisal of Direct Democracy's Secondary

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Common Democracy

Political Representation beyond Representative Democracy

Alexandros Kioupkiolis

, where the assembled demos is excluded from any effective participation in the everyday exercise of major political power, which is entrusted to experts, bureaucracies, and elected (or not) elites. But it also contrasts with direct democracy in a wholly

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The Swiss Paradox

Egalitarianism and Hierarchy in a Model Democracy

Marina Gold

The Swiss system of direct democracy is in many ways paradoxical. The federal structure counteracts the formation of centralizing state hierarchies and protects the egalitarian representation of local political interests. Simultaneously, local political structures can have hierarchical and exclusionary effects, especially when democratic processes are turned into values. This article considers the tensions between egalitarian and hierarchical values in Swiss democratic structures in the wake of the rise of anti-foreigner and anti-EU passions harnessed by extreme right-wing parties. These tensions are heightened in the context of global processes that are transforming the structures of the state, as corporate power undermines state apparatuses with the potential to subvert democratic practices.

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People's Mic and democratic charisma

Occupy Wall Street's frontier assemblies

Chris Garces

The People's Mic is a new genre of political speech. In Occupy Wall Street (OWS) general assemblies, this tactile media for public deliberation was integral to embodying new political community across American cities in a globally oriented movement of the squares. Whether or not OWS has exemplified direct democracy per se, the People's Mic has cultivated new forms of democratic charisma between previously disaggregated constituencies-a “leaderful charisma“, with historical roots in pious American oratorical traditions (“hallowed speech“) and more recent movements for intercultural solidarity building (global justice, horizontalist, feminist, etc.). In this article, I signal how the People's Mic atavistically conjured and resembled the American town hall meeting in a contemporary and heterogeneous US frontier assembly. Before its strategic incapacitation, the Occupy movement's widespread use of People's Mic served to undermine the authority of private-public monopolies and to place a check on mounting police repression of urban space.

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Democracy and the Multitude

Spinoza against Negri

Sandra Field

Negri celebrates a conception of democracy in which the concrete powers of individual humans are not alienated away, but rather are added together: this is a democracy of the multitude. But how can the multitude act without alienating anyone's power? To answer this difficulty, Negri explicitly appeals to Spinoza. Nonetheless, in this paper, I argue that Spinoza's philosophy does not support Negri's project. I argue that the Spinozist multitude avoids internal hierarchy through the mediation of political institutions and not in spite of them; nor do these institutions merely emanate from the multitude as it is, but rather they structure, restrain and channel its passions. In particular, the required institutions are not those of a simple direct democracy. There may be other non-Spinozist arguments on which Negri can ground his theory, but he cannot legitimately defend his conception of the democratic multitude by appeal to Spinoza.

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Durkheim

Une sociologie d’État

Catherine Colliot-Thélène

It is traditional to discuss the relation between Durkheim and Weber as ‘founders of sociology’. At first sight, it might seem odd to couple Durkheim and Hegel. But it can be instructive to compare their approach to issues involving modern individualism, society and the state. In general, they subscribe to a combination of rationalism and developmental ethics, in which the rational is immanent in the real, despite the possibility of ‘contingent’ or ‘pathological’ departures from ‘normality’. More specifically, in the case of the state, they see one of its main historical roles as the emancipation of the individual in a development of the individual personality. At the same time they picture the state as ‘the brain’ of society and insist on its relative autonomy and independence from individuals. Instead, in a critique of direct democracy, they look to a web of intermediate groups and corporations. A basic problematic in their work, and a continuing source of reflection, is how to achieve a balance between individual rights and a necessary authority and legitimacy of public power. In both cases this balance rests, as a matter of principle, on confidence in the skills and civic virtue of political leaders.

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Emily Beausoleil and Jean-Paul Gagnon

of democracy; Spencer McKay reads David Altman's Citizenship and Contemporary Direct Democracy (Cambridge, 2018), Joshua Dyck and Edward Lascher's Initiatives without Engagement (Michigan, 2019), Saskia Hollander's The Politics of Referendum Use