Associations and Democracy: The Real Utopias Project, Vol. 1 (Volume 1)

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9781859840481: Associations and Democracy: The Real Utopias Project, Vol. 1 (Volume 1)

Throughout the West, democracy is under fire. “Government is part of the problem, not the solution” is a common refrain. As the tasks of the state become more complex and the size of polities larger, the institutional forms of liberal democracy developed in the 19th century seem increasingly unable to cope. Rather than seeking to deepen the democratic character of politics, much energy in recent years has been directed as reducing the role of politics altogether. In Associations and Democracy, Joshua Cohen and Joel Rogers advance an innovative scheme for rejuvenating the democratic state. Their proposal involves the strengthening of secondary associations, organizations like unions, works councils, neighborhood associations, parent-teacher groups and women’s societies. With enlivened secondary associations mediating between individual citizens and the state, active participation in the political process can be expanded and democracy enhanced. Such an approach raises a number of thorny issues: Can such associations retain their independence from government if they are pulled further into the political sphere? Will a shift from territorial to functional representation further fragment an already divided polity? In an array of original contributions, leading social scientists respond to Cohen and Rogers with questions like these; Cohen and Rogers, in turn, sum up the debate. The first of a series of polemics providing workable scenarios for a progressive future, Associations and Democracy is a lively and stimulating exploration of one of the central issues on today’s political agenda.

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About the Author:

Joshua Cohen was born in 1980 in New Jersey. He is the author of five books, including the novels Cadenza for the Schneidermann Violin Concerto, A Heaven of Others, and Witz. Cohen’s essays have appeared in The Forward, Nextbook, The Believer, and Harper’s. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Joel Rogers is Professor of Law and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and Director of COWS. His many books include On Democracy, Right Turn, The Forgotten Majority, and What Workers Want. A longtime activist, Rogers was identified by Newsweek as one of the 100 Americans most likely to shape U.S. politics and culture in the 21st century.

Ira Katznelson is Columbia University’s Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History. Having served as president of the American Political Science Association, he is a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He is also the author of When Affirmative Action Was White.

Erik Olin Wright is Vilas Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin. He is the author of many books, including Classes, Interrogating Inequality, Class Counts, Deepening Democracy (with Archon Fung), and Envisioning Real Utopias. For more information on Envisioning Real Utopias and the Real Utopias project, and to access book content, please visit realutopias.org (site in progress).

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