The Plebeian Addendum to Liberal Democracy


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships


Political Science


This project develops the idea of plebeianism as a way to better comprehend the nature of contemporary liberal democracies. Plebeianism is at once a description of how ordinary citizenship today falls short of traditional ideals surrounding democracy and a progressive account of how democratic citizens might understand civic responsibility under such circumstances. The research aims to revive the notions of the ‘Few’ and ‘Many’ as important categories for both understanding and improving contemporary political life. Although not primarily a work on ancient Rome, the argument is inspired by the plebeians of late Republican Rome, whose pursuit of democratic ends was always conditioned by the reality of the difference between ordinary and elite modes of citizenship.