Some Reflections on Contestation and Cosmopolitanism in Democracy and their Implications for Public Administration

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Administrative Theory & Praxis


Ongoing contestation over the meaning of democracy reflects value conflicts that exist within and across different national cultures and, as such, is intimately tied to the conduct of politics. It follows that the imposition of any single abstract and cosmopolitan idea of democracy on a society is always potentially dangerous to the practice of politics and to the variety of different values that different individuals, groups and cultures hold to be important to them. However, this need not lead one to be nihilistic about the meaning of democracy. Drawing on Camus’ idea of rebellion, this paper argues that any cosmopolitan conception of democracy must include recognition of the right of citizens to contest the decisions and actions of their government. The implications of this idea for public administration scholarship and practice are examined.

Original Citation

Michael W. Spicer (2021) Some reflections on contestation and cosmopolitanism in democracy and their implications for public administration, Administrative Theory & Praxis, DOI: 10.1080/10841806.2021.1891795