Cover: Democracy without Politics, from Harvard University PressCover: Democracy without Politics in HARDCOVER

Democracy without Politics

Product Details


$42.00 • £36.95 • €38.95

ISBN 9780674058224

Publication Date: 02/09/2012


314 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


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Democracy without Politics is an ambitious, important book. It ropes together a detailed reinterpretation of Alexis de Tocqueville’s political thought with a diagnosis of the cynicism and idealism found in American democracy and a critique of recent democratic theory’s fascination with radical openness and indeterminacy… Political theorists and other scholars will find here a great many important insights and fascinating paths of research. Well written and filled with fascinating examples and analyses of recent political trends, the book should contribute a great deal to studies of Tocqueville, contemporary democratic theory, the analysis of political culture, and critical studies of U.S. politics.—G.D. Mackin, Choice

In this extended meditation, Steven Bilakovics takes Tocqueville as his guide to the pathologies of democracy in modern America. Following Tocqueville, he dares to suggest that what troubles us most about democratic political life reflects, not non-democratic distortions, but rather the inexorable logic of the core commitment to equality. This book will enlighten and provoke everyone interested in the political sociology of American democracy.—William A. Galston, The Brookings Institution

Many people today are cynical about democratic politics. Could democracy itself be partly to blame? That is the provocative suggestion of Steven Bilakovics’s fascinating new book on democracy in America. Bilakovics begins where Tocqueville left off, tracing the internal logic of democratic thought and demonstrating its manifestations in everyday life. He argues that we often misunderstand the virtues of our own political culture, thinking of democracy simply as a form of ‘openness’ and thereby leading ourselves to disappointment and disillusionment. The book as a whole makes a powerful case against democratic complacency.—Bryan Garsten, Yale University

Addressing the peculiar seesaw of cynicism and idealism that characterizes American politics, Steven Bilakovics provocatively suggests that our current anti-political prejudices flow not from some extra-political source (such as neoliberal economics or fundamentalist religion) but from the spirit of democracy itself. Democracy without Politics is a masterful reworking of Tocqueville’s theses concerning equality, freedom, and democratic openness. It illuminates, in a radically original way, our ongoing love affair with democratic ideals and our growing impatience with—even contempt for—democratic politics. A must-read.—Dana Villa, University of Notre Dame

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