On the 22nd October 2020, the Einstein Forum welcomed Veikko Eranti and Ewa Atanassow for a discussion about parademocratic institutions and their merits.
Thumbnail & OG images c/o of Marc Schlumpf – CC BY-SA 3.0
About the debate:
Total democracy is a situation within which most aspects of public and private life are affected or governed by democratic institutions. In Finland, this describes the lived reality for millions of people. Education, housing, banking, religion and even Burger King and funeral parlours are democratic in one way or another. This is due to Finland having democratic institutions in schools and universities, record membership rates for cooperatives and unions, and a system of democratic housing governance. Membership in these parademocratic institutions is voluntary, but they represent the ideals of participatory democracy and open up everyday issues (such as shopping for groceries) to democratic discussion and deliberation. Due to the abundance of such institutions in Finland, the country can be said to be in a state of total democracy. Yet, is this totality a good thing for democracy? Does it actually increase participation and give power to the people or is it actually one of the causes of broader democratic malaise?
Veikko Eranti – Assistant Professor of Urban Sociology
Veikko Eranti is an assistant professor of urban sociology and a co-director of the Centre for Sociology of Democracy.
Eranti's work focuses on participation, democracy and political culture in urban and online settings. Currently, he leads the Total Democracy project, investigating democracy in so called parademocratic institutions: i.e., co-operatives, churces, housing corporations etc.
While he also works on developing methodologies, Eranti's specific theory interests include cultural repertoires, political cultures and new social pragmatism.
Veikko is also currently one of the editors-in-chief of the European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology.
Ewa Atanassow – Junior Professor of Political Thought
Ewa Atanassow is a junior professor of political thought at Bard College Berlin and a former post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University's Department of Government. Her research and teaching interests include the history of political thought and questions of nationhood and democratic citizenship, with a particular emphasis on Tocqueville. And, she holds a PhD from the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought and an MA in psychology from the Jagiellonian University in Crakow.
Atanassow is widely published and her articles and reviews have appeared in American Political Science Review, Global Policy, Journal of Democracy, Kronos, Nations and Nationalism, Perspectives on Political Science and Przegląd Polityczny. Alongside her publications in journals, Atanassow is also the co-editor of Tocqueville and the Frontiers of Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and of Liberal Moments: Reading Liberal Texts (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017). Currently, she is working on a book that looks to explore the tensions between liberalism and democracy from a Tocquevillean perspective.
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