Northwestern Events Calendar


The Two Faces of Democracy: Decentering Agonism and Deliberation.

When: Monday, December 5, 2022
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM CT

Where: Scott Hall, 212, 601 University Place, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Graduate Students

Contact: Ariel Sowers   (847) 491-7454

Group: Department of Political Science

Category: Academic


Please join the Political Theory Colloquium as they host Professor Molly Scudder, Associate Professor of Political Science at Purdue University. 

Abstract: The democratic imagination is facing significant challenges. These challenges involve not only deep philosophical questions about the core values of democracy, but also pressing practical issues related to how we should understand and confront the rise of right-wing authoritarian populism. What should our stance be as defenders of democratic life? The two most prominent efforts to orient us here are the deliberative and agonistic models of democracy. The former emphasizes reasoned discussion, but some worry that this exclusive focus overlooks structures of injustice that distort civil deliberation. The latter prioritizes contestation and conflict, but its proponents struggle to explain why this prime orientation to defeating political opponents will not also corrode our commitment to normative democratic restraints, like fairness. In this paper, we begin to show how these two faces of democratic life, the deliberative and agonistic, each has a significant, but constrained, role to play in a more capacious comprehension of what our democratic commitments require of us. The “communicative model” of democracy we propose provides better grounds for facing the challenges of contemporary anti-democratic movements than either the deliberative or agonistic models alone.

Dr. Molly Scudder is a Associate Professor of Political Science at Purdue University. Dr. Scudder specializes in democratic theory, specifically deliberative democracy. The question that drives her research is how citizens who have diverse and conflicting political and moral commitments can come together to order public life in a democratic way. To answer this question, she studies political talk among citizens, investigating how practices of political talk either help overcome or actually contribute to persistent problems of political inequality and exclusion.

For a copy of the paper please email 

Register Add to Calendar

Add Event To My Group:

Please sign-in