Working on the democratic imagination and the limits of deliberative democracy

Citation metadata

Date: Dec. 2005
From: Political Research Quarterly(Vol. 58, Issue 4)
Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc.
Document Type: Author abstract
Length: 323 words

Document controls

Main content

Abstract :

NOW is not a period of "normal science" for the field of political theory, whatever we (or Kuhn 1970) might mean by that phrase. Many political theorists will today be found toiling in fields that ostensibly belong to other disciplines, and some of the best work done "in" political theory proves interdisciplinary by its very nature. The essays in this symposium offer a vibrant cross-section of what one might then call the "new" political theory: they exemplify the diversity of writing that currently marks the field of political theory. They are impressively broad in scope yet powerfully concrete in their implications. In their diversity, they show us something absolutely crucial about the practice of political theory today But the pieces collected here also prove to be marginal in a number of important senses. They live and breathe "at the edge" of political theory in those spaces where they have easier access to other fields. They run the risk of further marginalization by posing unexpected questions and by suggesting unconventional responses. At their core lies a refusal of the standard themes and the typical problems of political theory. They come together to find common ground only from their respective margins of the subfield. Thus, they share the project of not only operating at those margins but also working on them. Perhaps this is precisely the type of work that the "new" political theory must do today In this essay I argue that such a project always proves to be a labor of imagination. Imagination must be considered here neither as flight of fancy, nor disregard of reality; imagination cannot be reduced to representation. The power of imagination is a synthetic power of creation and of reconstruction--an ability to combine the uncombinable, to surpass binaries without merely collapsing them, to fashion something new. "Working on the democratic imagination" means, then, to think the limits (and their transgression) of democratic theory and of democracy as well.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A143216073