The idea of citizens being mere spectators who "watch" politics is widespread in public and academic debates. Scholarship in relation to democratic theory tends to see spectatorship as a state in which citizens are politically uninterested, isolated, and passive. Although this understanding aptly captures the problems about the idea of spectatorship, it is only a partial awareness and prevents us from seeing that positive forms of spectatorship are also possible. I show that positive spectatorship occurs when citizens show an interest in one or more political problems and, together with others, strive to understand them better. I consider the distinctive elements of this form of spectatorship characterized by careful observance, relationality, and proactivity. I argue that it is normatively desirable, and I reflect on the ways in which positive spectatorship helps thinking about democratizing politics. Relatedly, I also revisit the theatrical metaphor of politics, which is often associated to the concept of spectatorship as something negative for democracy. I argue that, when combined with a proper understanding of spectatorship, the theatrical metaphor can be used originally to envisage ways forward in the democratization of our societies.

Casting a new light on the democratic spectator

Felicetti, Andrea
2022

Abstract

The idea of citizens being mere spectators who "watch" politics is widespread in public and academic debates. Scholarship in relation to democratic theory tends to see spectatorship as a state in which citizens are politically uninterested, isolated, and passive. Although this understanding aptly captures the problems about the idea of spectatorship, it is only a partial awareness and prevents us from seeing that positive forms of spectatorship are also possible. I show that positive spectatorship occurs when citizens show an interest in one or more political problems and, together with others, strive to understand them better. I consider the distinctive elements of this form of spectatorship characterized by careful observance, relationality, and proactivity. I argue that it is normatively desirable, and I reflect on the ways in which positive spectatorship helps thinking about democratizing politics. Relatedly, I also revisit the theatrical metaphor of politics, which is often associated to the concept of spectatorship as something negative for democracy. I argue that, when combined with a proper understanding of spectatorship, the theatrical metaphor can be used originally to envisage ways forward in the democratization of our societies.
2022
Settore SPS/04 - Scienza Politica
Democracy; Spectatorship; Participation; Deliberation; Plebiscitarianism; Agonism; Citinzenship; Reflection
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11384/113984
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