New books on democracy are published every week. Some literally change the way scholars think about democracy, while others rework ongoing debates. Some books do not discuss democracy, but they have relevance to anyone who is serious about understanding democracy.
This list includes 5 new books on democracy. I’ve only read one so far. In other words, it’s not a review. Instead, it’s a list of books worth keeping an eye on. Some I’m going to read. One that I have already read and presented in the podcast. Each week I plan to present five more books. Hopefully, it will inspire others to learn more about democracy.
Time for Socialism: Dispatches from a World on Fire, 2016-2021 by Thomas Piketty
Thomas Piketty is an economist rather than a political scientist, however his recent work has focused less on economics than politics. His most recent work, Capital and ideology, represented a shift in his work towards history and political science. A forthcoming volume, Political splits and social inequalities, explicitly focuses on democracies. I guess this is my way of justifying including Piketty’s recent work on this list.
Many already know Piketty for the huge number of pages of his past books. Less ambitious readers will find this reading more manageable. It’s only 360 pages and only 8 hours as a audiobook. It is also probably less dense than his other works, because it is a collection of columns of le Monde. Hence, it is likely to focus less on theory and more on recent events in recent years. However, it is academic enough for Yale’s academic press to publish it.
Democracy has a complicated relationship with diversity. Deliberative democratic theory seeks to add diversity to democratic decision making. However, the old democratic schools stressed the importance of homogeneity for democratic governance. Russell Jacoby doesn’t seem to focus on democracy by itself, however, it touches upon some of the challenges that democracies face when trying to embrace diversity.
Jacoby is a history professor at UCLA. Some readers will probably already recognize his name from past works. It’s probably one of the most readable and least academic selections on this list, but it still looks serious enough to appear in the footnotes of serious academic journals.
Russell Jacoby, On diversity: the eclipse of the individual in a global era
Political dissent and democratic remittances
In this volume of Routledge, Joanna Fomina uses the idea of remittances to apply to political communication. Remittances typically refer to the money immigrants send home to relatives. However, Fomina now uses the term to refer to the political ideas that political dissidents develop in exile.
Joanna Fomina is a highly respected voice writing about post-Soviet politics. His past work was found in Journal of Democracy and the book Divided democracies edited by Thomas Carothers and Andrew O’Donohue. So, it is worth taking a look at those interested in this topic.
This isn’t quite a new job. Svend-Erik Skanning released it in 2017 in what was probably Danish. Some will overlook this translation due to limited marketing. However, it will likely attract the attention of a small group of influential scholars who are “in the know.”
Svend-Erik Skaaning’s recent work has focused on the interwar period. His work on this period is interesting, because he approaches it as a political scientist rather than as a historian. A previous interview with him is included in the podcast here.
Svend-Erik Skaaning, Democracy (Reflections)
Democracy and Executive Power: Political Responsibility in the US, UK, Germany and France by Susan Rose-Ackerman
This week’s podcast focuses on Susan Rose-Ackerman’s latest work Democracy and executive power. I have already written a review here. You can also check out the podcast below.