Participatory democracy calls for the creation and proliferation of practices and institutions that enable individuals and groups to better determine the conditions in which they act and relate to others. Michael Menser’s timely book We Decide! is arguably the most comprehensive treatment of participatory democracy. He explains the three waves of participatory democracy theory to show that this movement is attentive to the mechanics of contemporary political practices. Menser also outlines “maximal democracy,” his own view of participatory democracy that expands people’s abilities to shape their own lives, reduce inequality, and promote solidarity.
We Decide! draws on liberal, feminist, anarchist, and environmental justice philosophies as well as in-depth case studies of Spanish factory workers, Japanese housewives, and Brazilian socialists to show that participatory democracy actually works. Menser concludes his study by presenting a reconstructed version of the state that is shaped not by corporations but by inclusive communities driven by municipal workers, elected officials, and ordinary citizens working together. In this era of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, the participatory democracy proposed in We Decide! is more significant than ever.
About the Author
Michael Menser is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Urban Sustainability Studies at Brooklyn College in New York and co-founder of the Participatory Budgeting Project. He is the co-editor of Technoscience and Cyberculture.
Table of Contents
Introduction: We are Everywhere 1
1 Participation and Democracy in History, Theory, and Practice 11
2 Participatory Budgeting, Democratic Theory, and the Disarticulation of the State 66
3 From Corporate Social Responsibility to Economic Democracy: Stakeholder Theory, Civil Society, and Worker Ownership 106
4 Democracy in the Workplace: Freedom, Equality, and the Sovereignty of Labor 145
5 From the Culture of Consumption to Democratic Social Reproduction 201
6 We Administer! From the Public-Private to the Social-Public 226
Conclusion: Opportunities for Research and Scenarios for Action 257