S05E08: Charles Tay­lor on Degen­er­a­tions and Regen­er­a­tions of Democracy

Why is democ­ra­cy prone to degen­er­a­tion, and how does this affect our con­ven­tion­al notions of democ­ra­cy itself? Do we usu­al­ly depend too much on a thin for­mal insti­tu­tion­al con­cep­tion of democ­ra­cy focused on elec­toral rou­tines, and thus, neglect broad­er ques­tions of class, cul­ture, equal­i­ty, and sol­i­dar­i­ty? How can we reimag­ine and also regen­er­ate pro­gres­sive democ­ra­cy with the right bal­ance of free­dom, equal­i­ty, and sol­i­dar­i­ty on the local, nation­al, as well as supra­na­tion­al lev­els? And how can we over­come the per­va­sive sense of pow­er­less­ness in the face of abstract imper­son­al forces, forces that Charles Tay­lor refers to not only as opaque, but also as those sig­nalling the loss of cit­i­zen efficacy?

Guests fea­tured in this episode: 

Charles Tay­lor, one of the most pre­em­i­nent con­tem­po­rary philoso­phers of our times. He is Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus of Phi­los­o­phy at McGill Uni­ver­si­ty in Mon­tre­al. He was Fel­low of All Souls Col­lege and Pro­fes­sor of Social and Polit­i­cal The­o­ry at Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty. His remark­ably vast oeu­vre includes land­mark mono­graphs on Hegel, social the­o­ry, reli­gion, lan­guage, and mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism. Among his books let me men­tion Sources of the Self: The Mak­ing of Mod­ern Iden­ti­ty (1989), Mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism and the Pol­i­tics of Recog­ni­tion (1992), or A Sec­u­lar Age (2007) which have deci­sive­ly shaped con­tem­po­rary debates in their respec­tive fields. His lat­est book, co-authored with Craig Cal­houn and Dilip Gaonkar is called Degen­er­a­tions of Democracy.


Shalini Randeria

Shalini Randeria is Rector and President of the Central European University (Vienna/Budapest). Before, she was Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute Geneva, and Rector of the Institute of Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna from 2014 to 2021. She has published widely on the anthropology of globalisation, law, the state and social movements. Her empirical research on India also addresses issues of post-coloniality and multiple modernities.