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Reconstructing Democracy

Reconstructing Democracy

How Citizens Are Building from the Ground Up

Charles Taylor, Patrizia Nanz, Madeleine Beaubien Taylor

ISBN 9780674244627

Publication date: 03/17/2020

“An urgent manifesto for the reconstruction of democratic belonging in our troubled times.”

—Davide Panagia

Across the world, democracies are suffering from a disconnect between the people and political elites. In communities where jobs and industry are scarce, many feel the government is incapable of understanding their needs or addressing their problems. The resulting frustration has fueled the success of destabilizing demagogues. To reverse this pattern and restore responsible government, we need to reinvigorate democracy at the local level. But what does that mean? Drawing on examples of successful community building in cities large and small, from a shrinking village in rural Austria to a neglected section of San Diego, Reconstructing Democracy makes a powerful case for re-engaging citizens. It highlights innovative grassroots projects and shows how local activists can form alliances and discover their own power to solve problems.


  • This is an urgent manifesto for the reconstruction of democratic belonging in our troubled times. In their theorizing of democracy as a resonant dynamic of local engagements, civic practices, and forms of collective agency, Charles Taylor, Patrizia Nanz, and Madeleine Beaubien Taylor offer robust philosophical and empirical solutions to the deep need for reestablishing a sense of trust in citizen participation and solidarity.

    —Davide Panagia, author of The Political Life of Sensation


  • Charles Taylor is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Philosophy at McGill University. Author of The Language Animal, Sources of the Self, The Ethics of Authenticity, and A Secular Age, he has received many honors, including the Templeton Prize, the Berggruen Prize, and membership in the Order of Canada.
  • Patrizia Nanz is the Scientific Director at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies and Professor of Transformative Sustainability Studies at the University of Potsdam. She is a coauthor of No Representation Without Consultation: A Citizen’s Guide to Participatory Democracy.
  • Madeleine Beaubien Taylor is the Chief Executive Officer of Network Impact and coauthor of Connecting to Change the World: Harnessing the Power of Networks for Social Impact. She previously taught with the Committee on Degrees in Social Studies at Harvard University.

Book Details

  • 120 pages
  • 4-3/8 x 7-1/8 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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