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Democracy without Solidarity: Political Dysfunction in Hard Times – Introduction to Special Issue

Abstract

Why do democratic institutions struggle to maintain their vitality and legitimacy in hard times? In this special issue of Government and Opposition, we identify a loss of solidarity as the root cause of Western political dysfunction over the past decade. The argument is developed in four parts. The first part is theoretical insofar as it sketches the causal mechanism that describes what we mean by democratic dysfunction. Here we set out some of the key concepts that are central to our project. The second part is empirical insofar as it offers four negative illustrations of the fundamental problématique, which gives us the opportunity to suggest why this collection of research articles is relevant to the contemporary debate on democracy and its discontents. The third part explores the many possible sources of democratic dysfunction, which we have organized around two thematic clusters. Here we introduce the other articles in our special issue. The fourth and last part suggests implications of living in a democratic world with waning solidarity, allowing us to draw preliminary conclusions and suggest avenues for future research.

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Government and Opposition
  • ISSN: 0017-257X
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