The figure of the child in democratic politics

Bray, Daniel, and Nakata, Sana (2020) The figure of the child in democratic politics. Contemporary Political Theory, 19. pp. 20-37.

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This article seeks to illuminate the figure of the child in democratic politics by arguing that children play a constitutive role as temporary outsiders who present both renewal and risk to the demos. Using Hannah Arendt’s concept of natality, we begin with an ontological account of children as new individuals that are central to renewing democratic freedom and plurality. In the second section, we explore how children can be conceived in terms of political risk by focussing on Arendt’s debate with Ralph Ellison concerning the desegregation of American schools in the 1960s. Their arguments about whether children should appear in politics underscores the constitutive role that child–adult relationships play in debates about the normative fabric of democratic society. Finally, we use the radical democratic theory of Chantal Mouffe to argue that children can be characterised as an excluded group of potential adversaries that appear in political contests over claims to represent the demos. From this perspective, the article reveals that children are central figures in democratic politics because they are constituents of an unknown future polity.

Item ID: 78733
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1476-9336
Keywords: children; childhood; natality; representation; Arendt; democracy
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2019, Springer Nature Limited
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC Discovery Indigenous funding scheme IN160100039
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2023 22:45
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4408 Political science > 440811 Political theory and political philosophy @ 100%
SEO Codes: 23 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 2302 Government and politics > 230201 Civics and citizenship @ 100%
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