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Argues that democratic theory and practice needs to shift its focus from elections and representation to sharing power and property in government and the economy

We Decide!

Theories and Cases in Participatory Democracy

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Michael Menser

Participatory democracy calls for the creation and proliferation of practices and institutions that enable individuals and groups to better determine the conditions in which they act and relate to others. Michael Menser's timely book We Decide! is arguably the most comprehensive treatment of participatory democracy. He explains the three waves of participatory democracy theory to show that this movement is attentive to the mechanics of contemporary political practices. Menser also outlines "maximal democracy," his own view of participatory democracy that expands people's abilities to shape their own lives, reduce inequality, and promote solidarity.

We Decide! draws on liberal, feminist, anarchist, and environmental justice philosophies as well as in-depth case studies of Spanish factory workers, Japanese housewives, and Brazilian socialists to show that participatory democracy actually works. Menser concludes his study by presenting a reconstructed version of the state that is shaped not by corporations but by inclusive communities driven by municipal workers, elected officials, and ordinary citizens working together. In this era of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, the participatory democracy proposed in We Decide! is more significant than ever.

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About the Author(s)

Michael Menser is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Urban Sustainability Studies at Brooklyn College in New York and co-founder of the Participatory Budgeting Project. He is the co-editor of Technoscience and Cyberculture.

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Subject Categories

Political Science and Public Policy
Philosophy and Ethics
Business/Economics

In the Series

Global Ethics and Policy

Global ethics and international political theory are relatively new fields prompted by the growing interconnections of economies, technologies, societies, cultures, and legal systems that together comprise globalization. The Global Ethics and Politics Series, edited by Carol C. Gould, will feature original authored works and distinctive collections dealing with the contemporary ethical issues that are raised by globalization and by the new democratic forms of global governance that can contribute to the realization of justice and human rights. It will also consider new cross-cultural approaches to ethics and political norms and the conditions for intercultural understanding and conflict resolution in a globalizing world. Within these parameters, the series will include books on such themes as ethical issues regarding globalization; cross-cultural approaches to ethics and human rights; new perspectives on transnational democracy and the use of global governance institutions and international law to address questions of global justice and questions of war and peace.

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