If you thought you knew what democracy is, think again - and again. Evolutionary Basic Democracy argues powerfully and provocatively for attending to the multiple roots and sites of democracy – including nonhuman ones. Suddenly democracy looks like something very big indeed, not just a recent Western human invention.
John Dryzek, School of Politics and International Relations, Australian National University, Australia
Jean-Paul Gagnon's new book on democracy is definitely the most innovative, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary work that will surely become a classic in the study of democracy and democratization all over the world. His concept of "evolutionary basic democracy" can be found not only in the nonhuman sector but also in human beings, implying that democracy has long been enjoying a life of its own that cut across borders, time and space. As such, the origins, concept, dimensions and meaning of democracy are questioned fundamentally. Social scientists and scientists will find this book extremely thought-provoking, original and transdisciplinary.
Sonny Lo, Head of the Department of Social Sciences, Hong Kong Institute of Education, China
Jean-Paul Gagnon's book shakes our certainties that we know what is democracy and moreover that the society in which we live is for sure democratic. It questions the idea that democracy was born in ancient Greece and that the way in which it was implemented in modern European and North-American countries is the template of how democracy works everywhere in the world. This provocative book outlines a global history of democracy written according to a cross-cultural method and against the current. It is thus extremely useful besides being challengingly original.
Nadia Urbinati, Department of Political Science, Columbia University, USA
The concept of democracy is fraught with ambiguity. There are none who know what democracy means, where it came from or indeed where it is going despite it being the system of governance that is most widely heralded for its modernity and promotion of equality. For example, the theory and principles that underpin democracy are unimaginably complicated while its institutions across time and space are contradictory. The stark reality is that democracy is imprisoned by parochialism, subjectivity and myopia with humanity being governed by a system that is does not fully understand. If democracy is everywhere and everyone wants it, then how do we not know what it means? If we do not know what democracy means, then why is it forcefully driving our politics and societies? This extremely ambitious and illuminating book offers a way out by answering these important questions and by exploring democracy in its purest form and as such has been nominated for the 2013 Stein Rokkan Prize. Evolutionary Basic Democracy has been nominated for the 2013 Stein Rokkan prize. This extrememly presitgious award is presented by the International Social Science Council, The University of Bergen and the European Consortium for Political Research.
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