Doing Democratic Theory Democratically

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Over centuries, democratic theory has developed emancipatory ideals of inclusion, agency and transparency. These ideals, however, have scarcely been applied to the process of theorizing itself. Democratic theory is a product of the academic ivory tower. This article sets out to confront this problem and formulates democratic theorizing as an alternative to established approaches to theorizing democracy. It does so by conceptualizing democratic theory production as a democratic innovation. Democratic theorizing needs to include affected people, empower those on the margins and facilitate transparency. The proposed approach attempts to realize these ideals by bringing together three methodological traditions: grounded theory (in its critical indigenous version), participatory research and assemblage theory. The resulting approach of democratic theorizing draws on an ongoing engagement with the Black Lives Matter movement. The article discusses nine guiding principles of democratic theorizing and presents concrete building blocks to shape a democratic theorizing project.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Methods
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


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