Towards a critical sociology of democracy: The potential of the capability approach

TitleTowards a critical sociology of democracy: The potential of the capability approach
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsBonvin, J-M, Laruffa, F, Rosenstein, E
JournalCritical Sociology
Pagination1-16
Keywordscapability approach, critical theory, deliberation, democracy, inequalities, participation
Abstract

The aim of this article is to lay down the foundations of a critical sociology of democracy
and participation. Based on Amartya Sen’s capability approach, we identify four major pitfalls
of classical theories on justice and deliberative democracy: 1) an excessive emphasis on the
procedural dimension of democracy at the expense of its substantial value; 2) an ideal of
deliberation that does not sufficiently account for the inequalities that characterize actual
participative practices; 3) an ideal approach to rationality which is inconsistent with the plurality
of reasons to value and arguments that can be observed in social reality; and 4) a focus on official
or institutionalized forms of deliberation that does not pay due attention to the many forms
and dynamics of participation. We contend that, by contrast, Sen’s epistemology may be fruitful
for the development of a critical sociology of democracy and suggest an agenda for empirical
research on participation and deliberative practices.

DOI10.1177/0896920517701273
Refereed DesignationRefereed