Democracy and Diversity

Panel Code

In recent times, democratic theorists have been increasingly interested in the political and theoretical implications of social diversity. Modern democracies tend to be diverse across a variety of different dimensions. Many are highly diverse in their social composition, containing a multiplicity of ethnic, linguistic and religious groups. The fragmentation of political identities and increasing levels of political polarization imply that modern democracies also tend to be characterized by diversity in the values and beliefs of citizens, as evidenced by recent highly contentious debates in many countries over issues such as immigration, free trade, and climate change. There is also growing recognition of the theoretical importance of the diversity that characterizes the legal and political status of different groups residing within state borders. Historically, political theory has tended to focus on the rights and duties of citizens, but many of those who live within state borders are non-citizens – e.g. permanent residents, temporary migrants, and refugees, who lack the full set of rights and liberties enjoyed by citizens. This panel will explore a number of key institutional and theoretical challenges raised by the different dimensions of social diversity. First, it will examine the potentially constructive functions that the concept of friendship can play in (cross-cultural) dialogues about democracy. Second, it will explore the challenges posed to key liberal democratic norms and values by refugee protection regimes that often contribute to the exploitation of refugees, and especially refugee children. Third, and finally, it will consider potential institutional responses to the challenges posed by social diversity to liberal democracy, by especially focusing on electoral design, trade unions, and migrant organizations.