Whither Egypt?

Will Egypt go the way of the Iran?  Will religious extremists take over the country?  Will the vacuum left over from a dictator’s departure pave the way for religious and ethnic conflict and extremism? What kind of regime will take over now that Mubarak has departed Cairo? These are all the wrong questions. Whether Egypt… Continue reading Whither Egypt?

Political Cultures and the Culture of Poverty

“‘Culture of Poverty,’ Once an Academic Slur, Makes a Comeback” reports the New York Times this morning, referring to the debate that started with Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s 1965 report that described “the urban black family as caught in an inescapable ‘tangle of pathology’ of unmarried mothers and welfare dependency.” According to the story, written by… Continue reading Political Cultures and the Culture of Poverty

Town Hall Democracy?

Here’ s a recipe for debate rather than deliberation.  Throw a town hall meeting and put a politician in the middle of the room.  In that setting, the people generally come to blame and beseech.  They don’t come to do the political work of deliberation, which is to ask themselves, on whatever the issue at… Continue reading Town Hall Democracy?

Digital Dialogue on Democracy and the Political Unconscious

My book Democracy and the Political Unconscious is the subject of a podcast by Christopher Long’s  Socratic Politics in Digital Dialogue: Cultivating a Politics of Dialogue in a Digital Age. In episode 8 of the Digital Dialogue, I am joined by Shannon Sullivan, Professor of Philosophy, Women’s Studies and African and African American Studies here… Continue reading Digital Dialogue on Democracy and the Political Unconscious

Civil Society, or the Public Sphere?

I am ready to come clean with my worry about these two terms, “civil society” and “the public sphere.”  My political theorists friends (trained in political science departments) act and talk as if the difference between the two is patently obvious.  I just nod, a bit hesitant to admit that I don’t quite get it.… Continue reading Civil Society, or the Public Sphere?

A Phenomenology of Democratic Politics, 2d post

I ended my last post, the first of a series on my current book project, with these questions: Think about where you grew up or where you live now. When there’s a problem, how do people behave? Do they get together? Do they protest, beseech, complain, or even riot? Do they give up? These habits… Continue reading A Phenomenology of Democratic Politics, 2d post

A Phenomenology of Democratic Politics

This academic year I’ve been working on a new book project. Roughly, it’s a phenomenology of democratic politics — democratic in the deep and strong sense, not the thin sense of liberal, representative democracy.  I’ve written several chapters, that have been published as papers here and there. It’s time to start ordering this all in… Continue reading A Phenomenology of Democratic Politics

It’s about context not content

The Havas Media Lab just put out a paper on user-generated context — a significant tweak of the new media mantra about user-generated content (meaning all those videos, blogs, and podcasts that the people formally known as the audience are now making for themselves). The authors argue that most of this new content is really… Continue reading It’s about context not content

Deliberative Democracy Exchange

I’ve just come off of an amazing three-day meeting convened by the Kettering Foundation: the Deliberative Democracy Exchange.  There were about two hundred participants from all over the world coming together to exchange thoughts and think through little-d democratic politics, a politics that’s about deliberation, engagement, and civic agency.  I like to describe democracy as… Continue reading Deliberative Democracy Exchange