Representative institutions and the question of lefortian democracy

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Claude Lefort's interests as a democratic theorist primarily lied elsewhere than in institutional questions. This essay, however, takes up what commentary he did provide on representative institutions to offer a new interpretation of his thought. Focusing in particular on little-studied writings of his from the late 1980s, this essay argues that at the institutional level Lefort was committed to a descriptive account of representation, based in a network of associations beyond the electoral sphere,that resembled earlier liberal and pluralist theories. This revised understanding of Lefort raises broader questions about the democratic credentials of Lefort’s theory, which are too often taken for granted, and suggests that he fits comfortably within longstanding liberal traditions of thought about inclusive, deliberative government.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-163
Number of pages29
JournalTocqueville Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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