Analyse & Kritik

Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory


Focus: Deliberative democracy and polarization
2023 (45) Issue 1

In present Western societies we are struck with something like a paradox. On the one hand, the political process becomes more and more “deliberative.” Notwithstanding a media world with a tendency towards monopolies, communication streams in society are quantitatively more active and widespread than ever before in history. The process of politics is publicly more elaborate, more transparent and more outspoken than ever before – at least in liberal democracies. On the other hand, there is a growing polarization, not least through social media that enables citizens to express their opinion on public matters and thereby realizes freedom of expression – one of modern democracies’ basic rights. We see both tendencies at the same time, and sometimes even in the same venues, such as when disputes turn into hate speech in online-fora. With the opening of opportunities there also arrive all the ills of affect driven expressions, ill-informed opinions and self-satisfied moralization.

Questions that follow from this constellation include: Is there an inherent link between both tendencies? Does public dispute under conditions of digitized communication necessarily lead to antagonist communication and the dominance of propaganda over deliberation? Is deliberation possible at all in the digital public spheres? Is there a tendency inherent in public communication that diverges from democratic representation and steers towards an essentialist voice of the “people”? Is deliberation within a multitude revealing the deeper unsolvable conflicts of interest in society, and thus providing an argument for the authoritarian alternative to democracy? Does intensified communication implicitly deepen the antagonisms rather than working towards common solutions? Can serious conflicts of interest be mitigated by discussing them, and do democratic ideals have any influence in the process? Is there empirical proof of the “democratic” support of deliberation, or is the deliberative idea purely normative, and thus a philosophical illusion?

We welcome submissions that address the listed or similar questions from a philosophical or social science perspective

Deadline for submissions is 1st April, 2023.

For author information see:

Focus: Actualizing Beauvoir: Finding the normative in negotiations about gender
2023 (45) Issue 2

Beauvoir was one of the first making clear that the gender, race, and ability of bodies are not innate or fixed features of those bodies, much less corporeal indicators of physical, social, psychic, and even moral inferiority, but are themselves dynamic phenomena that have the potential to overturn accepted notions of normalcy, naturalness, and normativity. Working with both a conceptual background of ambiguous social relations and an existential idea of freedom, Beauvoir launched a radical attack on the cultural formation of both, femininity and masculinity, or on gender as has been stated later by poststructuralist thinkers like Judith Butler. Beauvoir made us sensitive to how an individual’s or group’s gender, race, and bodily abilities differentially affect how their bodies are responded to by other bodies, or how suppression and emancipation play out at the level of largely unconsciously formed and bargained over psychosocial identities.

Intriguing as such radical reflections are, they also bring along a bag of normative and empirical ambiguities. If gender roles have to be reconstructed critically under conditions of freedom and equality, how to state these conditions more explicitly? Are freedom and equality, and which kind of freedom and equality, the sole and uncontested normative basis from which to reconstruct, construct or negotiate about feminine and masculine psychologies? Are there tensions between equality and freedom in feminist concerns? What are they and how can they be reconciled? Are the most recent turns in feminism, neoliberal feminism and postfeminism helpful in dealing with these tensions? If we can assume that freedom and equality are widely accepted normative principles for gender relations, how can we explain the persistence of gender hierarchy? And is a recourse to the existentialism of Beauvoir fruitful in the present situation, or, if not, what has changed meanwhile?

We welcome submissions that address the listed or similar questions from a philosophical or social science perspective. An explicit reference to the works of Beauvoir is strongly encouraged.

Deadline for submissions is 15 September, 2023.

For author information see:

Institut für Sozialwissenschaften
Universität Düsseldorf
Universitätsstr. 1
D-40225 Düsseldorf