ECPR Joint Sessions
University of, St Gallen
12 - 17 April 2011

“We, the people”: a new object of democratic analysis

Workshop Number
Workshop Director
Workshop Co-Director
Dario Castiglione
University of Exeter

The people is generally seen as the source of democratic law. In contemporary democracies, we take decisions based on its will and we speak in its name. In recent years, however, the people has turned into a political question in its own right. Politicians and the public debate the distinctions between citizens, residents, migrants and refugees. Students of politics and theorists discuss whether ‘we, the people’ is a collectivity or a series of individuals; whether it is national, European or cosmopolitan; territorial or functional; unitary or plural (dêmoi, multitude).
If this conflict has prompted new research on the historical, constitutional and political implications of people-making considerably less attention has been given to its normative significance and how this impacts on empirical and positive research about people-making processes and the place of people in democratic politics. In democratic theory it is often assumed that while law can be evaluated in normative terms—we ask whether it conforms to the principles of freedom and equality—the people presents a different case. Being the ultimate source of democratic law it is usually taken to be beyond democratic, critical, or normative evaluation.
The purpose of this workshop is to take issue with such an assumption. The workshop aims to examine the people as an object rather than the source of democratic analysis: How do we distinguish legitimate from illegitimate ways of drawing the boundaries of the people? On what basis can such a judgement be made? We welcome papers that examine current forms of border- and boundary politics from this perspective. More specifically, we invite papers that draw on the above questions in order to examine a) the concept of the people and its impact on democratic authority and legitimacy, b) its significance for issues such as migration, constitutionalism and global governance, and c) the normative and empirical underpinnings involved in its constitution.

Paper List

“We, the people”: Tensions between constituent power and constituted power in contemporary Latin America View Paper Details
Announcing ‘the People’: Partisanship in Constitutional Moments View Paper Details
Constituting the Dêmoi Democratically View Paper Details
Dynamics of modern citizenship View Paper Details
Help, the populists are coming! Appeals to the people in contemporary Swedish politics View Paper Details
On the Demos and its Kin: Nationalisms and Democratic Legitimacy View Paper Details
Partisanship in Constitutional Moments: Theoretical Perspectives View Paper Details
People and Territory: Membership and Physical boundaries of Democratic Peoples View Paper Details
Peoples and Territory View Paper Details
Peoples and their Boundaries: Views from 1848 View Paper Details
Present Progressive, Future Imperfect: The Linguistic Deneutralisation of the People View Paper Details
Ratifying the People View Paper Details
Representing the People and representing the Public View Paper Details
The Hegemonic Constitution of the People View Paper Details
The Legal Concept of the People: From a Monist Paradigm to a Pluralist-Theory of the People View Paper Details
The normative terrain of people-making View Paper Details
The People of the "Synthetic Polity" View Paper Details
The problem of democratic inclusion: legal subjects and “illegal” immigrants View Paper Details
The Quest for the Legitimacy of the People: A social contract theoretical proposal View Paper Details
The rationalities and technologies of external citizenship View Paper Details
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"The less the power, the greater the desire to exercise it" - Bernard Levin

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