Recent social and political developments, including the Brexit referendum result and its xenophobic aftermath in the UK, the presidential elections in the United States, anti-democratic state policies in Hungary and Poland, as well as the political climate of upcoming elections in France and the Netherlands, have all underlined the topicality of the relationship between democracy and popular sovereignty. What is ‘the people’? What is the popular sovereignty that supposedly underlies all democratic regimes? When does democratic politics become ‘populistic’? Is ‘populistic’ politics always necessarily anti-democratic, and if so, why? Is a ‘progressive’ variant of populism possible? What are the limits of popular self-determination in a democracy? Can the constituent popular sovereign ‘do no wrong’? How does one oppose anti-democratic populistic tendencies with democratic means? Is democracy a value that can even justify exceptional means?
The symposium ’The People’: Democracy, Populism, and the Constituent Popular Sovereign, taking place on 21-23 June 2017 in Helsinki, and organized by the Political Constitutional Theory (PolCon) network, will address these and related questions on the troubled relationship between democracy and ‘the people’ from a variety of angles. Such angles include (but are not limited to):
- Constitutional and constitutionalist theory
- Political philosophy and theory
- History, the history of ideas, and legal history
- The theory of democracy
- Legal philosophy and theory
- Socio-legal studies
- Social and cultural theory
In addition to the keynotes and presentations delivered by members of the organizing network, the programme will accommodate a number of additional papers presented by scholars interested in the topic of the symposium. Papers themselves are expected to be of article length (c. 8,000-10,000 words) and to be available for distribution to symposium participants prior to the event. Presentations at the event are, however, limited to 15 minutes per paper to allow for discussion. The aim of the organizers is to work towards the publication of the best papers as an edited volume and/or as a special issue of a relevant journal.
Those interested in participating in the symposium with a paper are invited to send a proposal through this electronic form (please click) by 24 February 2017. More detailed information concerning the proposal itself is available on the form. Accepted paper presenters will be chosen and notified of the decision no later than 31 March 2017, and papers should be ready for distribution to symposium participants by 2 June 2017. Papers are expected to be pre-read by symposiasts prior to the event.
Participation will require the payment of a registration fee of 75 € which will cover light lunches and refreshments over the three days, a reception, the symposium dinner, and the summer solstice social programme. Participants are expected to cover their own travel and accommodation expenses (please click for more information on travel and accommodation options).
The event will take place at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law, Porthania building (street address: Yliopistonkatu 3), seminar room P545.