Toward Thick Citizenship

Mouffe on why more robust, thicker conceptions of citizenship are needed in public affairs:

“By privileging rationality, both the deliberative and aggregative [political] perspectives leave aside a central element which is the crucial role played by passions and affects in securing allegiance to democratic values. . . . The failure of current democratic theory to tackle the question of citizenship is the consequence of their operating with a conception of the subject which sees individual as prior to society, bearers of natural right and either utility-maximizing agents or rational subjects. In all cases they are abstracted from social and power relations, language, culture and the whole set of practices that make agency possible. What is precluded in these rationalistic approaches is the very question of what are the conditions of existence of a democratic subject.” (Chantal Mouffe, The Democratic Paradox, New York, Verso, 1996, pp. 95-96)