Cover image for The Problematic Public: Lippmann, Dewey, and Democracy in the Twenty-First Century Edited by Kristian Bjørkdahl

The Problematic Public

Lippmann, Dewey, and Democracy in the Twenty-First Century

Edited by Kristian Bjørkdahl

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$124.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-09677-3

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260 pages
6" × 9"
2024

Rhetoric and Democratic Deliberation

The Problematic Public

Lippmann, Dewey, and Democracy in the Twenty-First Century

Edited by Kristian Bjørkdahl

“Intrinsic to the tradition of democratic politics is debate over the nature of democracy itself, and Bjørkdahl’s volume is a worthy contribution to our perennial deliberations. Its chapters examine the influential democratic theories of two of the most prominent public intellectuals of the twentieth century—philosopher John Dewey and journalist Walter Lippmann—and show how their penetrating analyses can help us navigate the serious challenges facing democracy in the twenty-first century.”

 

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Almost one hundred years have passed since Walter Lippmann and John Dewey published their famous reflections on the “problems of the public,” but their thoughts remain surprisingly relevant as resources for thinking through our current crisis-plagued predicament. This book takes stock of the reception history of Lippmann’s and Dewey’s ideas about publics, communication, and political decision-making and shows how their ideas can inspire a way forward.

Lippmann and Dewey were only two of many twentieth-century thinkers trying to imagine how a modern industrial democracy might (or might not) come to pass, but despite that, the “Lippmann/Dewey debate” became a symbol of the two alleged options: an epistocracy, on the one hand, and grassroots participation, on the other. In this book, distinguished scholars from rhetoric, communication, sociology, and media and journalism studies reconsider this debate in order to assess its contemporary relevance for our time, which, in some respects, bears a striking resemblance to the 1920s. In this way, the book explains how and why Lippmann and Dewey are indispensable resources for anyone concerned with the future of democratic deliberation and decision-making.

In addition to the editor, the contributors to this volume include Nathan Crick, Robert Danisch, Steve Fuller, William Keith, Bruno Latour, John Durham Peters, Patricia Roberts-Miller, Michael Schudson, Anna Shechtman, Slavko Splichal, Lisa S. Villadsen, and Scott Welsh.

“Intrinsic to the tradition of democratic politics is debate over the nature of democracy itself, and Bjørkdahl’s volume is a worthy contribution to our perennial deliberations. Its chapters examine the influential democratic theories of two of the most prominent public intellectuals of the twentieth century—philosopher John Dewey and journalist Walter Lippmann—and show how their penetrating analyses can help us navigate the serious challenges facing democracy in the twenty-first century.”

Kristian Bjørkdahl is Associate Professor of Rhetoric in the Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Oslo.

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Lippmann, Dewey, and Democracy in a Hailstorm

Kristian Bjørkdahl

1 A “Constituency of Intangibles”: Walter Lippmann’s Plea for a Better Democracy

Michael Schudson

2 The Lippmann/Lippmann Debate: What Role Do Social Movements Play in Democratic Politics?

Nathan Crick

3 From the Illusions of Democracy to the Realities of Its Appearances

Bruno Latour

4 Debates Conjured, Debates Forgotten

Anna Shechtman and John Durham Peters

5 Societal Embedding of the Lippmann/Dewey Debate: From Opinion Expression to Opinion Polling and Mining

Slavko Splichal

6 The Lippmann/Dewey Debate in the History of Twentieth-Century Progressivism

Steve Fuller

7 Propaedeutic Rhetorical Citizenship: Deweyan Impulses in Danish Community-Building

Lisa S. Villadsen

8 A Public and Its Solutions: Lippmann and Dewey Through the Prism of Norwegian Social Democracy

Kristian Bjørkdahl

9 Democracy Now: Recovering the Political Pragmatism of Walter Lippmann and John Dewey

Scott Welsh

10 Democratic Deliberation, Identity, and Information

Patricia Roberts-Miller

11 Rhetorical Sociology and the Management of Public Discourse

Robert Danisch and William Keith

List of Contributors

Index