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Political Representation from a Pragmatist Perspective: Aesthetic Democratic Representation

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Räber Michael I.,
Project Democracy and Aesthetics: Performance, Perception and Representation
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Contemporary Pragmatism
Volume (Issue) 16(1)
Page(s) 84 - 103
Title of proceedings Contemporary Pragmatism
DOI 10.1163/18758185-0161119


In this article I discuss the advantages of a theory of political representation for a pragmatist theory of (global) democracy. I first outline Dewey’s disregard for political representation by analyzing the political, epistemological and aesthetic underpinnings of his criticism of the Enlightenment ideal of democracy and its trust in the power of the detached gaze. I then show that a theory of political representation is not only compatible with a pragmatist Deweyan-pragmatist perspective on democratic politics but also that Dewey’s concept of “publics”, if applied to contemporary circumstances of globalized politics, requires such a theory. I suggest a pragmatic theory of political representation that combines elements of Dewey’s aesthetics, particularly his own theory of vision, with Michael Saward’s conception of representative claim-making into the notion of aesthetic democratic representation.