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Sharing Democracy$
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Michaele L. Ferguson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199921584

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199921584.001.0001

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Imagining the Demos

Imagining the Demos

Sharing Identity in Feminist and Democratic Theory

(p.61) Chapter 3 Imagining the Demos
Sharing Democracy

Michaele L. Ferguson

Oxford University Press

This chapter critically examines the belief that commonality gives meaning and coherence to collective identities. The belief that groups only have coherence when their members share some thing in common has led feminist theory into the twin dead ends of essentialism and anti-essentialism. Feminism’s example thus serves as a warning for democratic theory that political paralysis results from an insistence on locating the commonality that unites a collective. Drawing on Zerilli’s critique of feminist theory and Anderson’s account of how communities come to be imagined, this chapter develops an alternative account of how collective identities have meaning and coherence. Rather than arising from commonality, the resilience and meaning of identities is a product of active human imagining expressed in a variety of overlapping, competing, and not entirely contiguous intersubjective practices.

Keywords:   feminist theory, essentialism, category of women, Linda Zerilli, Benedict Anderson, commonality, Identity, collective identity, imaginary, Cornelius Castoriadis

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