SPECIAL TOPICS IN POLITICAL THEORY: DEMOCRACY AND DIVERSITY

Level: 
Semester: 
Instructor(s): 
Units: 
4
Number: 
116P
CCN: 
70293
Times: 
MTWT 2p-4p
Location: 
2040 Valley LSB
Course Description: 

Does democracy work exclusively in homogeneous societies? Only in such societies, it has long been maintained, can a people be sufficiently similar to form shared politi­cal understanding and projects. Absent considerable commonality—religious, linguistic, ethnic, racial—it is feared that democracy deteriorates into the tyranny of the majority or a war of all against all. But we are in the midst of a dramatic shift in which democratic societies are increas­ingly diverse and their citizens less willing to ‘forget’ their many differences to melt into a domi­nant national culture. These develop­ments raise some basic questions. Is it possible to achieve sufficient agreement on fundamental political issues in a diverse society to sustain democracy? Can the character of political community or the nation be reconceived and reformed? If not, is democracy doomed? Or might it be possible to reform democracy to render it compatible with conditions of deep diversity? If so, does the democratic claim to legitimacy also need to be trans­formed? This course will explore these questions in a number of ways. We will study exemplary historical statements of the ideal of democracy drawing on traditional and contemporary works in political philosophy. We will also draw on contemporary work in sociology, anthropology, cultural and legal studies, and political science to examine the nature of social and cultural diversity including religion, value, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and class. Finally, we will explore works that bring these themes together by attempting to (re-) articulate the relevance of specific identities to political engagement and the general ideal of democracy in light of in­creased diversity. Specific themes to be considered include: race and democracy, the politics of recognition, and the ethics of identity. In addressing these issues we take a deeply multidiscipli­nary approach, drawing on methodologies and disciplines beyond political science ranging from philosophy, history and literature to sociology anthropology and ethnic studies.

Group visibility: 
Public - accessible to all site users