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The themes of citizenship and community are today at the centre of a fierce debate as both Left and Right try to mobilize them for their cause. For the Left such notions are crucial in all the current attempts to redefine political struggle through extending and deepening democracy. But, argue the contributors to this volume, these concepts need to be made compatible with the pluralism that marks modern democracy. Rather than reject the liberal tradition, they argue, the aim should be to radicalize it. These essays set out to examine what types of 'citizen' and 'community' might be required by such a radical and plural democracy. From a range of disciplines and a fruitful diversity of theoretical perspectives, the contributors help us to address the following challenge: how to defend the greatest possible pluralism without destroying the very framework of the democratic political community. Despite their differences, a vision emerges from these essays which is sharply at odds both with the universalistic and rationalistic conception to be found in the work of Habermas, and with postmodern celebrations of absolute heterogeneity. For this book is an exploration of politics--of a politics where power, conflict and antagonism will always play a central role.
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Chantal Mouffe is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster. Her books include "The Return of the Political"; "Hegemony and Socialist Strategy" (with Ernesto Laclau); "The Dimensions of Radical Democracy"; "Gramsci and Marxist Theory"; "Deconstruction and Pragmatism"; "The Democratic Paradox"; and "The Challenge of Carl Schmitt," all from Verso.
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