Spring 2022

Public Discussion and Liberal Democracy

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-353

Moodle site: Course


Freke Ette (Section 01)


Democracy refers to the rule of the people. But who exactly are the people? This course examines how the people, understood as a publicly discussing, political entity, evolved with the expansion of the voting franchise. It then considers what the notion of public discussion means in the Social Media Age. The course will explore public discussion as a concept in the history of political thought, focusing on a variety of European and American thinkers. The first third of the course studies several nineteenth-century English and French theorists who grappled with the fate of liberalism in the face of mass democracy. The second part revisits the famous debate, during the Progressive Era, on the role of public opinion in establishing and sustaining democracy in the United States. The course concludes with a look at what public discussion means in an age of big data, individualized advertising, a fragmented media landscape, and social silos.  

Requisite: At least one POSC course numbered 200 or above.  Not open to first-year students.  Spring semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Ette.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022