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Arlene W. Saxonhouse
Regents of the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1382)
Democratic Responsibility: Ancient Texts and Modern Politics

Who is responsible in a democratic regime: the leader who persuades a people to action or the people who allow themselves to be persuaded? the elected officials or those who elected them? To address this question, I turn to works primarily from ancient Athens: Thucydides' History, a selection of the tragedies and comedies, as well as to Shakespeare's Henry V and The Federalist. In each case, I see a different story of how to assign agency and assess responsibility. The challenge of how to understanding responsibility when discussing fluid composite political bodies engages us in questions of justice with and between nations, and contributes to our understanding of democracy in the modern age. The study of the ancient texts will be set in contrast to work done on prospective and retrospective voting by contemporary students of elections and representation in order to grasp more fully the conceptual and moral changes that have taken place with the move to modern forms of democracy.

Project fields:
Political Science, General

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$37,800 (approved)
$33,600 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2012 – 8/31/2012