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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pragmatist Democracy

A light blogging day today, both because classes are starting up and because those of us who live in Tuscaloosa and have trouble with math (which includes the better part of the law school) are trying to learn a new number -- 14 -- and steeling ourselves to learn to count up to 15.  But I did have a couple of recommendations of recent reading.

The first is a recent book called Pragmatist Democracy: Evolutionary Learning as Public Philosophy, by Christopher K. Ansell, a poli sci professor at Berkeley.  It's a great read for anyone interested in public administration, governance, democratic experimentalism and the varied works of folks like Mike Dorf and Chuck Sabel, and in the role and functioning of institutions (including private ones; some of the discussion here would apply equally well to, say, a consideration of the ministerial exception).  Here's a description of the back: "In Pragmatist Democracy, Christopher Ansell offers a theory of 'problem-solving democracy,' where public agencies build consent for public policy by engaging the public in active problem-solving. . . . [We] need to fundamentally re-imagine how [agencies] function as organizations and how they interact with the public. . . . By applying [a] Pragmatist perspective to our current democratic malaise, Ansell demonstrates how public agencies can facilitate a more collaborative democracy and a more effective form of governance."  

I thought it was an excellent book.  Although it's peppered with examples, I did think it does not always do an adequate job of domesticating and applying its broader theoretical discussions within the factual context provided by those examples.  Still, for anyone who has, say, downloaded with interest an article by Sabel, this is a must-read.  Enjoy. 

Posted by Paul Horwitz on January 10, 2012 at 08:27 AM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink


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