Democracy Books this Week
What does it mean to be free? This question is at the heart of Lea Ypi’s memoir, but it’s also found in the core of most work in political theory. The books below approach democracy from a variety of angles. Most of the titles this week approach cultural or social aspects of democracy. They involve topics like minority rights, inclusion, and citizenship. However, one title does tackle institutions head on. It’s a great list of titles for anyone interested in the most recent work on democracy.
Lea Ypi is a political theorist, so her memoir involves more than a personal narrative. Her personal experiences explain her thoughts on political theory just as much as her ideas on politics shape her personal narrative. Her personal story involves the difficult transition out of communism in Albania. The dramatic shift into a free market economic system with greater political freedom brought psychological and sociological transformations. It’s received almost universal praise and received numerous awards already. A recent interview from David Runciman on the Talking Politics podcast really stands out so I’ve included it below.
Lea Ypi, Free: A Child and a Country at the End of History
About ten years ago, the Supreme Court struck down key parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This was one of many setbacks the Civil Rights Movement has faced in recent years. So, it’s exciting to come across a recent book that aims to document the efforts to unravel the gains many have long taken for granted.
Stephen Steinberg, Counterrevolution: The Crusade to Roll Back the Gains of the Civil Rights Movement
The Struggle for Inclusion
The idea of inclusion is central for any democracy, yet it is the most challenging for a democracy to deliver. The Struggle for Inclusion focuses on the integration of Muslims into Western democracies, however it really explains the limits of toleration for contemporary democratic publics. Moreover, it extends the idea of democracy beyond the government and its laws to the incorporation of minorities into society. It’s a fascinating examination and one the podcast hopes to examine more closely soon.
Elisabeth Ivarsflaten and Paul M. Sniderman, The Struggle for Inclusion: Muslim Minorities and the Democratic Ethos
The Development of Political Institutions
It’s impossible to study democracy without an understanding of its institutions. So, a new volume from Federico Ferrara focuses on institutional change and development. It examines how they originate, but also how they evolve and even decay. It’s an interesting study that approaches institutions from a high level. Best of all it’s open access on the University of Michigan Press website.
Federico Ferrara, The Development of Political Institutions: Power, Legitimacy, Democracy
Citizenship in Hard Times
Sara Wallace Goodman was this week’s guest on the Democracy Paradox podcast so you listen to the interview below, read the transcript here, or read a review of the book here. That said, she is also among a new generation of stars in political science. Her latest book is an important contribution to comparative scholarship that approaches citizenship with an entirely original approach.
Sara Wallace Goodman, Citizenship in Hard Times: How Ordinary People Respond to Democratic Threat
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