Democracy as Struggle and Regime: On the Theory of Democratic Change


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Political Science


This dissertation develops a framework for deciding what makes some social and political reforms "democratic." It rejects the dominant model, which treats democracy as an ideal end-state we should approximate. Instead, democracy should be considered as an ongoing, historical process in which the people refashion their constitution over time. In part one, this study uses philosophical methods to demonstrate a paradox in the end-state model, and examines the history of nineteenth-century France to show that this history does not fit the narrative of linear progress that model suggests. In part two, it works out and defends an alternative model that draws on this complex history of conflict and conciliation to escape the paradox.