Current Working Papers

Informal Political Engagement and the Possible Risks to Democracy

Current democratic societies encourage informal political engagement: many politicians have active twitter accounts, citizens can initiate a parliamentary debate with a petition, and most have civic education on their school curricula. Citizens increasingly engage with political issues in new ways by directly addressing politicians via social media, campaigning directly at international forums, or boycotting corporate entities. These forms of engagement move beyond the more closely regulated electoral politics and are rightly celebrated for the ways they increase representation and provide new channels of accountability. This paper suggests however, that despite these more obvious virtues, informal political engagement inevitably tends to entrench and amplify inequality in citizen influence on political decision-making. In this article, I explore to what extent this inequality poses a challenge to democratic values and argue that these challenges and the inevitable (and valuable) presence of informal political engagement offer us good reason to favour views of citizenship as a collective project over those that view citizenship solely as a site of rights and expression of interests.

 

Global Justice, States, & the Relational View

On the global stage, states are agents that wage wars, negotiate trade agreements, and sign treaties. Much of this action is neutral or mutually beneficial, yet many state actions instead perpetuate global inequality and injustice.  While proponents of the relational view often restrict the scope of justice, I argue that the view ought to be applied to the interactions between states-as-agents.  The argument has two main steps. Firstly, I examine the relational view and argue that, properly construed, relational views rely on underlying principles of justice and the nature and aims of the practice in determining what duties arise. Drawing on this insight, I turn to an analogy between state interaction and domestic citizen relations. While relations between citizens ostensibly differ from those between states, these practices share an underlying principle of formal equality and the nature and aims of being long term, mutually dependent, formalized, and with valuable ends at stake.  This similarity points to duties that are similar in kind: the international stage is often characterized by principles of mutual advantage yet this analysis supports broadly egalitarian principles between states that participate in shared, long term and mutually dependent practices.  


Equality in Negotiation: An equality-based model of International Relations
Traditionally the state is conceived as an institution that exists in order to protect and further the interests of its citizens. Yet in contemporary global politics states are interacting in ways, and on a scale, that has serious implications for other states and consequently their citizens. States’ function cannot therefore be purely inward-looking. In a rapidly globalizing world it is imperative to challenge how we view relations between states. The risk is that given the speed of change, norms are not settled, resulting in both an uncertainty of expectations and an opportunity for the more powerful to shape the norms in their favour. Norms that have emerged with, or continued into, the globalized world are in need of close normative examination.

While there is extensive exploration of issues of global injustice, the norms that ought to govern state interaction are less closely examined. To be sure, the norms that govern state interactions are not a holistic account of the duties of global justice. There is much that can be said about what individuals owe each other, as well as what states might owe each other regardless of their interactions. The central claim of this research is that in addition to these non- relational duties between persons and between states, the practices in which states participate ought to be governed by a principle of equality in negotiation.