Public Action/Private Activities: Theorizing the Tensions of Democratic Leadership and Citizen Action


Friday, October 8, 2021, 9:45am to 3:30pm


Zoom webinar

a group of people lifting boxes of food to distribute to a community under a label with the event details

How much can a democracy demand of its citizens? Is it ever permissible to force people to act to support the public good? Much contemporary discourse holds that participation is a matter of private choice. Yet serious attempts to deal with pressing public issues—from the COVID-19 pandemic, to racial injustice and policing—tend to hit a wall, in part thanks to a view of democracy that suggests that personal choice is paramount. The result is an uneven commitment to taking action for public benefit that disproportionately benefits some citizens and burdens others while encouraging the growth of the privatized state. This workshop brings together scholars who explore whether and to what extent ordinary citizens and their leaders can be compelled to act collectively as a basic condition of democracy. Is there a way of reconciling individual freedom with the idea that a duty to work with others is sometimes non-negotiable? 

Full details will be posted soon.