Pandemic Participation: ISG Professor Christopher M. Kelty on Isolation and Participation in a Public Health Crisis

Drawing from ideas in his book, The Participant: A Century of Participation in Four Stories, ISG Professor, Christopher M. Kelty, discusses in a blog post how participation changes during a pandemic and what it means for the future.

“To treat participation as general—and democracy as a more specific apparatus to which it responds—amounts to asserting that participation is prior to democracy. Participation is not a simple component of democracy, but something problematic enough that things like representative parliamentary democracy, federal constitutions, secret ballots, and regimes of audit and regulation are oriented toward dealing with too much, too little, or the wrong kind of participation. This is not a conventional way of looking at democracy, and it will not fit well with a political theory tradition in which participation plays only a bit part in the great historical drama of democracy. I think, however, there is something to be gained by reversing this relation. Instead, one can view participation as a longstanding problem of the relation between persons and collectives, and see liberal democracy as existing in an intermediate temporality where institutions, theories, constitutions, legal systems are in a process of steady transformation. The apparatus we call “liberal representative democracy” is one concrete response to the problem of participation. (42)”

To read more of Kelty’s blog post, click here.



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