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This subject examines contemporary debates in political and social theory with a particular focus on developments within and challenges to liberal democracy. Initially these challenges will be framed in terms of theories of postmodernity and a series of related perspectives including: Feminism, Multiculturalism, and Postcolonialism. From this basis, similar dynamics within several strands of Marxist theory (including postmarxism and critical theory) will also be examined and compared with the dominant liberal democratic tradition. Recent Liberal responses in Deliberative Democratic theory that highlight democratic methods of political renewal for complex, pluralistic societies will then be examined focusing in particular on the way that they address key contemporary problems like violence, disagreement and incivility all within the context of the global context of political thinking today. The subject concludes by evaluating recent radical democratic theories which are concerned with establishing new ethical frameworks through which we can rethink democracy and politics.
Intended learning outcomes
- understand the major challenges to liberal democracy in contemporary political theory.
- be able to explain the implications for political theory of recent social and cultural phenomena such as postmodernism and globalization.
- Understand the various challenges of pluralism these new dynamics bring through theories like Feminism, Multiculturalism and Postcolonialism.
- grasp theories of democratic renewal such as those associated with deliberative democracy and radical democracy.
- comprehend the growth of pluralistic interpretations of complex societies in relation to political conflict and disagreement.
- be able to explain the reasons behind the emergence of radical theories of democracy and their implications for political ethics.
On completion of this subject students should:
- possess the ability to explain and analyse complex ideas in a lucid fashion;
- be capable or organising their work into a coherent structured argument;
- be able to identify and access relevant research to the topic;
- display evidence of an analytical approach to theoretical debates;
- be able to explain the implications of theories for practical politics;
- demonstrate a thorough and critical understanding of the literature relevant to the topic.
Last updated: 18 December 2020