Dialogism and democracy
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This thesis examines the notion of democracy not as a straightforward political process for decision-making, but as a type of dialogue. One of the main reasons for choosing this particular approach is to reveal the conditions of genuine democratic politics. A politics built on the image of people who can express themselves without fear and are free of obligation of sameness. Therefore, this thesis excavates the assumptions and complex relations of values by virtue of which democracy can be produced, reproduced and validated. It approaches Bakhtin’s idea of dialogue as an important but neglected concept in democratic studies and explores what dialogue is for Bakhtin, showing how his general theory of language and meaning not only implicates particular concepts of democracy such as addresser/ruler and addressee/ruled, but also reveals the conditions of freedom that is necessary to produce the momentum towards the enabling practices of political life. With respect to these, it discusses how Bakhtin’s idea of dialogue anticipates normative concerns that are central to contemporary democratic theory: Is it possible to establish a balance between unity and diversity or between the universal and the particular in a way that promotes recognition of differences as an instrument of democratic rule? Or, is it possible to prevent the inevitable tension between constituting a regulatory framework for political participation (which inevitably posits some fixity and exclusion) and celebrating heteroglossia? In order to address these issues, this thesis considers politics not only as a united body, but also a heteroglossic and multivoiced body.