17 February 2011

CFP: Democracy and its Critics: Ancient and Modern

One-day conference "Democracy and its Critics: Ancient and Modern" of the Political Thought Specialist Group of the Political Studies Association (PSA), Oxford, UK (precise venue to be confirmed), October 2011 (possible date: 22 October)

Call for papers

Description: "Most of the countries of the world are now democracies in that they have representative governmental institutions controlled by freely elected officials which operate under the rule of law and guarantee a wide array of individual rights, including equality and non-discrimination, personal liberty, freedom of expression, association and conscience, fair trials and a variety of social benefits. If a country's democratic system works tolerably well, the large majority of its citizens would not want to live under a very different political system, such as an absolute monarchy, communism, fascism, one-party dictatorship or anarchism, and this provides some indication of the relationship between citizenry and democracy. Nevertheless, in the past century or so democracies have had their critics and in some cases powerful enemies who have argued that democracy does not provide society the security, economic development, welfare and the other goods it 'really' needs.

"Some critics, for example, argue that modern liberal democracy is not a 'real' democracy as power is actually exercised not by the people, but by an oligarchy or a bureaucratic elite, and they compare this system unfavourably with the direct democracy of Athens and other Greek city-states in the 5th and 4th centuries BC where the body of citizens actually participated, on an equal footing, in making decisions on public issues. However, ancient democracy also had its critics, including great thinkers like Plato and Aristotle. Similar republican forms of government in ancient Rome also had their critics and enemies. The aim of the conference is to bring together and encourage discussion among scholars who are interested in the main features of ancient and modern forms of democracy, and seek to assess the purposes and methods of their governments by reference to the wishes and needs of the people."

Papers are invited that deal with any of the above issues. Please send an abstract to both Evangelia Sembou (Study group convenor): evangelia.sembou@hotmail.com
and Zenon Stavrinides (University of Leeds): z.stavrinides@leeds.ac.uk

Deadline: 30 April 2011

An early expression of interest would be appreciated, as it would help determine numbers.