"Excuse Us if We Don't Give a F**k": The (Anti-)Political Career of Participation.

By Texts, Cultures Jeunesse: Young People

  • Publication Date: 2010-01-01
  • Genre: Family & Relationships

Book Summary

"Participatory democracy must become a way of life."--Philip Haid, "Marketing Voter Participation to the MuchMusic Generation" (33) Participation was present at the origins (at least in the Western context) of thinking about citizenship. For Aristotle, the citizen was strictly defined as one who participates--one who "takes part"--in the offices of the city, a definition that extended its career more or less intact from the ancient Greek city states to the Roman Republic, was negatively affirmed by the absolutist monarchies of the Middle Ages via their denial of extensive participatory opportunities and citizenship to most subjects, and was confirmed decisively in the early modern European republics and later modern European and American liberal revolutions that established the rights of citizens and a variety of representative institutions in which they could exercise their citizenship by participating, by taking part. Participation is also central to notions of citizenship in modern republican and liberal political thought. More recently, the idea of citizenship as participation has been revived in democratic political critiques that point to the participatory deficiencies of increasingly bureaucratic and sporadic representative processes and institutions, and that call for increased opportunities for more inclusive and routine, deliberative, democratic engagement by citizens. These have been met in some cases by attention on the part of liberal democratic governments to provide better and greater opportunities for citizen engagement and consultation between elections. Beyond government, the goal of enhancing civic experience through more extensive and robust participation has also animated a range of scholars, policy-makers, activists, and organizations that have cohered around the problem of declining social capital due to a deficit of participation in the sort of community organizations and groups that bind and stabilize civil societies.

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