Democracy's discontent: America in search of a public by Michael J. Sandel

By Michael J. Sandel

The illness, Sandel keeps, lies within the impoverished imaginative and prescient of citizenship and group shared via Democrats and Republicans alike. American politics has misplaced its civic voice, leaving either liberals and conservatives not able to motivate the feel of neighborhood and civic engagement that self-government calls for. looking for a public philosophy enough to our time, Sandel levels around the American political adventure, recalling the arguments of Jefferson and Hamilton, Lincoln and Douglas, Holmes and Brandeis, FDR and Reagan. He relates epic debates over slavery and commercial capitalism to modern controversies over the welfare country, faith, abortion, homosexual rights, and hate speech. Democracy's Discontent offers a brand new interpretation of the yank political and constitutional culture that gives desire of rejuvenating our civic existence.

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Nonetheless, the worry remains that such narrative privileges certain viewpoints over others, giving too much deliberative power to those skilled in public rhetoric and with a sympathetic story to tell. As the discussion progresses, a somewhat pessimistic conclusion emerges, which is that one can only have good deliberation on things which do not matter all that much. Once something is important to a lot of people—that is, if one solves the motivational problem—the participation and publicity needed for legitimacy go up significantly; but so do the incentives to use rhetoric manipulatively and act strategically, undermining the deliberative quality that is also necessary for legitimacy.

To indicate that a person symbolizes the identity or qualities of a class of persons. Starting at the end of this list and working back, symbolic representation occurs where something or someone comes to symbolize a group of people in the way that, say, the kiwi symbolizes New Zealanders like me, Queen Elizabeth symbolizes Britons in some circumstances, or Nelson Mandela symbolizes the idea of a hopeful and united South Africa. Such symbols can be extremely important for legitimation because people feel they have had an impact on a decision or a regime if they see the symbols they identify with having an impact.

This is contrasted with representation which focuses on beliefs and interests, where the identity of the representative is irrelevant, and fairness consists in responsiveness and accountability (Squires 1999). One major advantage of descriptive representation is that, when the channels of public communication are clear, it allows those who are outside a decision-making forum to see that ‘people like me’ are in there having an impact—thus, descriptive representation includes aspects of the symbolic.

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