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Democratic Theory and Practice in Deeply Divided Societies

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Ian O'FlynnORCiD


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Empirical political scientists have had a great deal to say about the prospects for democracy in deeply divided societies. For whatever reason, the same cannot be said about normative political theorists. The aim of this article is to show that normative political theory has a vital—indeed in certain respects inevitable—role to play in terms of defining and defending the larger democratic goals and purposes a deeply divided society ought to pursue, if only in the longer run. To make this case, I focus specifically on the principle of political equality to see what that principle might have to say about two of most pressing issues deeply divided societies face—the need to accommodate ethnic groups within the structures for governing and the need to encourage political integration across society as a whole. I assume throughout, however, that if normative prescriptions are to have real practical bite, they must not be so far removed from the realities to which they are to apply that they end up failing to provide meaningful guidance.

Publication metadata

Author(s): O'Flynn I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Representation

Year: 2010

Volume: 46

Issue: 3

Pages: 281-293

Print publication date: 01/09/2010

ISSN (print): 0034-4893

ISSN (electronic): 1749-4001

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/00344893.2010.499696


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