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The Eyes of the PeopleDemocracy in an Age of Spectatorship$
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Jeffrey Edward Green

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195372649

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195372649.001.0001

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The Concept of Plebiscitary Democracy: Past, Present, and Future

The Concept of Plebiscitary Democracy: Past, Present, and Future

Chapter:
(p.120) 4 The Concept of Plebiscitary Democracy: Past, Present, and Future
Source:
The Eyes of the People
Author(s):

Jeffrey Green (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195372649.003.0004

This chapter revisits the overly maligned concept of plebiscitary democracy, reviewing its historical development, and arguing for its relevance as a present-day ethical paradigm. The chapter is organized as follows. Section 4.2 reviews the standard, purely pejorative interpretation of plebiscitary democracy that has arisen among contemporary political scientists: the understanding of plebiscitarianism as a politics of diremption. Against this reductive and negative interpretation of the meaning of plebiscitarianism, Section 4.3 returns to the theoretical origins of plebiscitarianism and recovers a forgotten, highly innovative, ethical component of plebiscitary democracy: namely, an ocular model of popular power whose basic features were introduced in Chapter 1. Finally, Section 4.4 turns to two of Shakespeare's Roman plays, Coriolanus and Julius Caesar, as concrete examples that illustrate the ocular model in action and that demonstrate the moral logic for wishing to revive a plebiscitarian alternative within contemporary democratic thought.

Keywords:   plebiscitary democracy, plebiscitarianism, Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, ocular model

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