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Popular Sovereignty in Historical Perspective


Richard Bourke, Kinch Hoekstra, Melissa Lane, Valentina Arena, Serena Ferente, Richard Tuck, Alan Cromartie, Lorenzo Sabbadini, Eric Nelson, Bryan Garsten, Duncan Kelly, Karuna Mantena, Timothy Stanton
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  • Date Published: July 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107571396

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About the Authors
  • This collaborative volume offers the first historical reconstruction of the concept of popular sovereignty from antiquity to the twentieth century. First formulated between the late sixteenth and mid-seventeenth centuries, the various early modern conceptions of the doctrine were heavily indebted to Roman reflection on forms of government and Athenian ideas of popular power. This study, edited by Richard Bourke and Quentin Skinner, traces successive transformations of the doctrine, rather than narrating a linear development. It examines critical moments in the career of popular sovereignty, spanning antiquity, medieval Europe, the early modern wars of religion, the revolutions of the eighteenth century and their aftermath, decolonisation and mass democracy. Featuring original work by an international team of scholars, the book offers a reconsideration of one of the formative principles of contemporary politics by exploring its descent from classical city-states to the advent of the modern state.

    • Presents the first historical reconstruction of the concept of popular sovereignty
    • Offers a collaborative approach that features a diversity of perspectives by international experts
    • Examines popular sovereignty across an exceptionally wide range of periods, enabling access to the full span of historical coverage
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Popular sovereignty is the most fundamental, most widespread and least understood principle of political legitimacy in the world today. As the first comprehensive scholarly treatment of the subject over the longue durée, Popular Sovereignty in Historical Perspective will become a pivotal work in the history of political thought.' David Armitage, Harvard University, Massachusetts

    'Although the idea of popular sovereignty is central to modern political thought, its historical evolution and conceptual transformations have received little sustained scholarly attention. The erudite and insightful chapters in Popular Sovereignty in Historical Perspective trace its emergence and development across time and space, from the ancient Mediterranean world to the present, and from Europe to the United States and India. It is a major scholarly achievement, and is sure to become a standard reference point for those working on the topic in political theory, intellectual history, philosophy and law.' Duncan Bell, University of Cambridge

    'Can popular sovereignty be more than an ideology we impose on the people we call our fellow citizens - and the past? The essays in Richard Bourke and Quentin Skinner's collection all address this question. Some of the authors consider it soluble. They think that a people can be supreme, even though only a few ever rule …' Ben Slingo, The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107571396
    • length: 420 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 152 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.63kg
    • contains: 3 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction Richard Bourke
    1. Athenian democracy and popular tyranny Kinch Hoekstra
    2. Popular sovereignty as control of officeholders: Aristotle on Greek democracy Melissa Lane
    3. Popular sovereignty in the late Roman republic: Cicero and the will of the people Valentina Arena
    4. Popolo and law: late medieval sovereignty in Marsilius and the jurists Serena Ferente
    5. Democratic sovereignty and democratic government: the sleeping sovereign Richard Tuck
    6. Parliamentary sovereignty, popular sovereignty, and Henry Parker's adjudicative standpoint Alan Cromartie
    7. Popular sovereignty and representation in the English Civil War Lorenzo Sabbadini
    8. Prerogative, popular sovereignty, and the American founding Eric Nelson
    9. Popular sovereignty and political representation: Edmund Burke in the context of eighteenth-century thought Richard Bourke
    10. From popular sovereignty to civil society in post-revolutionary France Bryan Garsten
    11. Popular sovereignty as state theory in the nineteenth century Duncan Kelly
    12. Popular sovereignty and anticolonialism Karuna Mantena
    13. Popular sovereignty in an age of mass democracy: politics, parliament, and parties in Weber, Kelsen, Schmitt and beyond Timothy Stanton

  • Editors

    Richard Bourke, Queen Mary University of London
    Richard Bourke is Professor in the History of Political Thought and Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of the History of Political Thought at Queen Mary, University of London. He has been a Humboldt Fellow at the University of Munich, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow at the Huntington Library in San Marino and a Fellow at the Institute of Advance Study in Berlin. He has written extensively on the history of enlightenment political thought and on modern Irish history. His books include Peace in Ireland: The War of Ideas (2003, 2012) and Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke (2015).

    Quentin Skinner, Queen Mary University of London
    Quentin Skinner is Barber Beaumont Professor of the Humanities at Queen Mary, University of London. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Academia Europaea, and a foreign member of many other learned societies. His scholarship, which is available in more than twenty languages, has won him numerous awards, including the Wolfson Prize for History in 1979 and a Balzan Prize in 2006. His books include The Foundations of Modern Political Thought (2 volumes, 1978), Reason and Rhetoric in the Philosophy of Hobbes (1996), Liberty before Liberalism (1998), Hobbes and Republican Liberty (2008), Forensic Shakespeare (2014) and a three-volume collection of essays, Visions of Politics (2002).


    Richard Bourke, Kinch Hoekstra, Melissa Lane, Valentina Arena, Serena Ferente, Richard Tuck, Alan Cromartie, Lorenzo Sabbadini, Eric Nelson, Bryan Garsten, Duncan Kelly, Karuna Mantena, Timothy Stanton

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