ASTK15660U SUMMER16: Participartory and post-national Democracy - Democratic perspectives for the future

Årgang 2015/2016
Engelsk titel

SUMMER16: Participartory and post-national Democracy - Democratic perspectives for the future


The democratic nation state as we know it is losing terrain. The highly acclaimed configuration of the people and the nation-state, which for two centuries have provided democratic regimes with legitimacy, accountability, efficiency and problem-solving capabilities is challenged by new political problems, new emerging identities and new forms of political participation, deliberation and contestation. In this course we will engage with two of most promising innovations within democratic thought – participatory and post-national democracy – and the political problems, which they seek to address.

What happens to democracy, when people no longer feel represented by their national representatives? What happens to democracy, when political problems become globalized and non-state actors such as NGO’s and multinational companies possess huge influence and power? How can democratic theory respond to challenges of declining legitimacy, financial crises and new regional and global structures of decision-making?

The course will begin by providing the diagnosis, namely that national democracy is in crises, and that it no longer provides basic democratic legitimacy and efficiency. It then process to the various democratic uprisings and innovative experimentations with participatory democracy, which followed the financial crisis of 2008. We will engage with new forms of democratic participation in the local neighborhood assemblies in Greece and Spain, the direct democratic decision-making of the Occupy Movement and experiments with citizens’ assemblies in Canada. In all these cases, we will ask which democratic promises and potentialities these attempts at local self-government provide.

The section half of the course will engage with questions of post-national democracy in the era of post-national democracy, in relation both to the EU and to other emerging projects of post-national democracy, such as variants of federalism and cosmopolitasnism. We will discuss questions of what representation, accountability and deliberation means in a post-national public sphere, and how post-national democracy within the EU can provide answers to both the democratic apathy of the national democracy, but also enhance the political efficiency in relation to transnational political problems.


Overview of the summer school:

Section 1: Introduction to the crisis of national democracy

  • Declining legitimacy (participation, deliberation)

  • Declining capability (Globalization of problems, transnational interests, global market)

Section 2: Participatory-democracy

  • Local self-government

  • The politics of protest

Section 3: Post-national-democracy

  • Questions of representation and accountability – Democracy in a post-national constellation?

  • The problem of identity, public sphere, and deliberation

Detailed overview of the summer school:





Introduction to the summer school

  • Why study micro and macro democracy
  • Engaged participation
  • Student presentations


Setting the scene: the crisis of national democracy

  • Declining legitimacy – questions of participation and deliberation?
  • Declining capability – transnational interest organizations, global market and democracy


Democratic theory

  • Forms of democracy
  • The boundary problem
  • Representation



  • The Politics of Protest
  • Citizens’ Assemblies



  • Introduction to post-national democracy
  • The EU, cosmopolitanism, federalism


Student Presentations


Competency description

The course strengthens the student’s knowledge of democratic theory, as well as their overall ability to understand and assess normative theory. The course is useful for students’ who wish to strengthen their ability to critically asses the current state of democratic governance, and who are interested in discussing the future of democratic governance.


  • Present different political theoretical theories on participatory- and post-national democracy

  • Deploy and combine normative democratic theory on specific cases

  • Evaluate the validity of different theoretical positions

  • Evaluate the tradition of participatory democracy’s influence on and resonance for current democratic contestations and experiments

  • Critically evaluate the challengesand opportunities facing  national liberal democracies through active engagement with perspectives from democratic theory

This is a tentative list. A final list of primary and secondary texts will be available at the start of the course.

  • Barber, Benjamin (2003) Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age, Ch. 1, 6- 7, pp. 2-26, 117-163

  • Benhabib, Seyla (2004) The Rights of Others, introduction, ch. 5, conclusion, pp. 1-25, 171-222

  • Castoriadis, Cornelius (1991) Philosophy, Autonomy, Politics, ch. 7, pp. 143-175.

  • Christiano, Tom (2008) “Democracy” in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), http:/​/​​entries/​democracy/​, (29 sider)

  • Erman, E. (2013) Political Equality and Legitimacy in a Global Context. In Erman, E. and Näsström, S. (eds.) Political Equality in Transnational Democracy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 61-88

  • Goodin, R.E. (2007) Enfranchising All Affected Interets, and Its Alternatives. Philisophy & Public Affairs 35: 40-68

  • Graeber, David (2009) Direct Action: An Ethnography, cp. 5, pp. 201-239.

  • Habermas, Jürgen (1994) “Three Normative Models of Democracy” in Constellations 1994, Vol 1, No 1, 1994, pp. 1-10

  • Habermas, Jurgen (1998) The Inclusion of the Other, MIT Press, Cambridge. Pp. 105-12

  • Habermas, Jürgen (2001) The Postnational Constellation – Political Essays, MIT Press. Chapter 4, pp. 58-112

  • Jürgen Habermas (2012) The Crisis of The European Union – A Response, Polity Press. Pp. 1-70 Cambridge

  • Held, David (1995) Democracy and the Global Order. From the Modern State to Cosmopolitan Governance, Cambridge: Polity Press. Chapter 5 and 6, pp. 99-136

  • Holman, Christopher (2013) 'Reconsidering the Citizens' Assembly on Electorial Reform: Castoriadis and Radical Citizen Democracy', New Political Science, Vol. 35, No. 2, pp. 203-226

  • Keane, John (ed) (2011) The Future of Representative Democracy, ch. 1-3, pp. 23-95

  • Knight, John & Johnson, James (2007) “The Priority of Democracy: A Pragmatist Approach to Political-Economic Institutions and the Burden of Justification”, American Political Science Review,vol. 101, nr. 1, pp. 47-61

  • Miller, David (2009) 'Democracy' Domain', In Philosophy and Public Affairs, vol. 37 (3), pp. 201-228.

  • Newman, Saul (2014) 'Occupy and Autonomous Political Life' in Radical Democracy and Collective Movements Today, pp. 93-111.

  • Pateman, Carole (1970) Participation and Democratic Theory, ch. 1-2, pp. 1-45.

  • Rosanvallon, Pierre (2008) Counter Democracy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Section 4

  • Rostboell; Christian F. (2015) 'Non-intrumental value of Democracy'. Constellations, pp. 267-278

  • Sitrin, Marina & Dario Azzellini (2014) They Can't Represent Us! Reinventing Democracy From Greece to Occupy. Ch. 2, pp. 40-68.

  • Thomassen, Lasse & Marina Prentoulis (2013) 'Political Theory in the Square: Protest, Representation and Subjectivation', Contemporary Political Theory, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 166-184.

  • Urbinati, Nadia & Mark Warren (2008) “The Concept of Representation in Contemporary Democratic Theory”, Annual Review of Political Science, vol. 11, p. 387-412

  • Warren, Mark E. & Hillary Pearse (2008) Designing Deliberative Democracy: The British Columbia Citizens' Assembly, Introduction and conclusion, pp. 1-20, 192-214

Relevant BA (e.g. political science, sociology, philosophy, European studies, history). It is not a prerequisite that the students have previously worked with political theory, however interest in normative political theory is of course beneficial.
The summer school will combine different pedagogical elements.
Lectures: The lectures will give an introduction to the assigned literature.
Class discussions: Each lecture will be followed by a class based discussion where either a case or a theoretical problem will be debated. It is therefore essential that the students are prepared and have read the assigned literature.
Student presentations: The course will end with a round of student presentations. The students can present individually or in groups. The presentations should touch on a puzzle related to the themes of the summer school. Presentations could for example be in the form of a disposition for a master thesis on participatory/​post-national democracy, a suggestion for a research design and case study, or a theoretical puzzle touching upon the nuances of the course literature. The student presentations aim at encouraging the students to continue the work in democratic theory by discussing and evaluating their ideas for future projects.
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7,5 ECTS
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