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Liberalism, Civic Reformism and Democracy Essay

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Liberalism, Civic Reformism and Democracy

This paper argues that liberalism provides democracy with the experience of civic reformism. Without it, democracy loses any tie-argumentative or practical-to a coherent design of public policy endeavoring to provide the resources for the realization of democratic citizenship. The case for liberalism rests on an argumentative reconstruction of the function it performs before the rise of a world economic order and, more specifically, in the creation of the welfare state after the Second World War. Accordingly, liberalism defines a reformist political program: it is an emancipatory political project by virtue of its struggle for an egalitarian and universalist extension of citizenship rights. This is but a formulation of the modern idea of citizenship, conceived of as a universalizable contract of rights. At the same time, liberalism embraces a socioeconomic emancipatory project that endeavors to provide the conditions, within the institutional framework of modern societies, for the accomplishment of citizenship rights.

The origins of liberalism in the seventeenth century tell the story of the struggle for recognition of religious tolerance. This early form of pluralism provided the antecedent for the constitutional recognition of civil rights, interpreted in terms of universal adscription. A further step of constitution-building in liberal polities was taken when the universal principles of equality and liberty assumed the status of fundamental rights. That happened under the form of a constitutional program aimed at the improvement of the civil condition. Liberalism as a revolution of rights not only meant the conquest of civil rights by society, but also their extension by constitut...


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... Studies, 1, pp. 73-86.

Rawls, J. 1993: Political Liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.

Rosales, J. M. and J. Rubio-carracedo 1997: "To Govern Pluralism: towards a Concept of Complex Citizenship", in W. Krawietz, E. Pattaro and A. Erh-Soon Tay, eds., Rule of Law. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.

Sen, A. 1992: Inequality Reexamined. Oxford: Clarendon.

Turner, B. S. 1986: Citizenship and Capitalism. London: Allen & Unwin.

____ 1997: "Citizenship Studies: a General Theory", Citizenship Studies, 1, pp. 5-18.

Van steenbergen, Bart 1994: "Global Modelling in the 1990s. A Critical Evaluation of a New Wave", Futures, 26, pp. 44-56.

Vogel, U. 1991: "Is Citizenship Gender-Specific?", in U. Vogel and M. Moran, eds., The Frontiers of Citizenship. Houndmills and London: Macmillan, pp. 58-85.

Walzer, M. 1983: Spheres of Justice. New York: Basic Books.


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