Counter-Democracy: Politics in an Age of Distrust

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Cambridge University Press, Nov 20, 2008 - Political Science
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Democracy is established as a generally uncontested ideal, while regimes inspired by this form of government fall under constant criticism. Hence, the steady erosion of confidence in representatives that has become one of the major political issues of our time. Amidst these challenges, the paradox remains that while citizens are less likely to make the trip to the ballot box, the world is far from entering a phase of general political apathy. Demonstrations and activism abound in the streets, in cities across the globe and on the internet. Pierre Rosanvallon analyses the mechanisms used to register a citizen's expression of confidence or distrust, and then focuses on the role that distrust plays in democracy from both a historical and theoretical perspective. This radical shift in perspective uncovers a series of practices - surveillance, prevention, and judgement - through which society corrects and exerts pressure.
 

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Contents

Foreword
Gareth Stedman Jones
Introduction
Overseeing democracy
Vigilance denunciation evaluation
The overseers
The thread of history
Legitimacy conflicts
Negative politics
The people as judge
Historical references
Almost legislators
The preference for judgment
Unpolitical democracy
The sense of powerlessness and symbols of depoliticization
The populist temptation

The sovereignty of prevention
From the right of resistance to complex sovereignty
Selfcritical democracies
Lessons of unpolitical economy
the modern mixed regime
Index

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About the author (2008)

Pierre Rosanvallon is Professor and Chair of modern and contemporary political history at the Collège de France.

Arthur Goldhammer, a translator specializing in French history, literature, philosophy, and social science, has translated more than a hundred works by many of France's most noted authors. He is on the editorial board of the journal French Politics, Culture and Society and in 1996 was named Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture.

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