- Format: Paperback
- ISBN: 978-1-5261-0585-1
- Pages: 224
- Price: £20.00
- Published Date: June 2021
- Series: Critical Theory and Contemporary Society
Democracy in the twenty-first century faces a number of major challenges, populism, neoliberalism and globalisation being three of the most prominent. This book examines such challenges by investigating how the conditions of democratic statehood have been altered at several key historical intervals since 1945. It demonstrates that the formal mechanisms of democratic statehood, such as elections, have always been complemented by civic, cultural, educational, socio-economic and constitutional institutions that mediate between citizens and state authority. Rearticulating critical theory with a contemporary focus, the book shows why a sociological approach is urgently needed to address conceptual deficits and explain how the formal mechanisms of democratic statehood need to be complemented and updated in new ways today.
'Sociological theory often seems remote from the everyday realities of coping with economic and democratic crises. Darrow Schecter here gives the lie to that prejudice, showing through a careful, thoughtful and original analysis how contemporary sociology can throw refreshing and practical light on major issues often regarded as the monopoly of economists and political scientists.'
Colin Crouch, FBA, University of Warwick
'Darrow Schecter offers a convincing analysis of the distinct variants of populism and transnational constitutionalism in contemporary world society. He thereby invites readers to rethink the future of western democracies at a time when the key institutions of statehood are clearly involved in a process of significant transition.'
Alberto Febbrajo, University of Macerata
'This is a pioneering project: the book elaborates a critical systems theory approach to twenty-first century world society by combining insights from the first generation of Frankfurt School critical theory and Niklas Luhmann's systems theory. After demonstrating that individual social systems are incommensurable, Schecter examines the relation between statehood and transnational capitalism. On this basis he shows how contemporary society could be democratised.'
Kolja Möller, Centre of European Law and Politics, University of Bremen
1 Reconsidering the theoretical preconditions of modern democratic statehood: on mediated unity and overarching legal-political form
2 Mediated unity in question: on the relation between law, politics, and other social systems in modern societies
3 Functional differentiation and mediated unity in question: looming constitutional conflicts between the de-centralist logic of FD and the bio-political steering of austerity and global governance
4 Dilemmas of contemporary statehood: on the sociological paradoxes of weak dialectical formalism and embedded neo-liberalism
5 Re-thinking inclusion beyond unity and mediation beyond discretionary steering: on social systems and societal constitutions
Conclusion: democratic state, capitalist society, or dysfunctional differentiation?
Darrow Schecter is Professor of Critical Theory and Modern European History at the University of Sussex