In specialized literature as well as in the eyes of regular citizens, social movements are often considered to be actors of democratization. Among other things, social movements criticize existing deficits in democratic systems; they promote practices of deliberation and enact non-hierarchical structures that challenge existing democratic institutions. Very often, these challenges emerge from the context of struggle against unjust situations involving social exclusion, economic inequalities or the violation of fundamental rights.
Democratization and Struggles Against Injustice draws on the insights of one of the greatest American philosophers, John Dewey, as well as on some central intuitions of Frankfurt School Critical Theory to account for the connection between the democratic potential of social movements and their capacity to articulate injustice and promote just social relations. Particularly, it develops the idea that this double capacity can be explained by introduction of the pragmatist notion of experimental inquiry into the analysis of the epistemic practices of the mobilized. By introducing pragmatist epistemology to the study of social movements, Democratization and Struggles Against Injustice broadens the possibilities for their emancipatory potential.
Justo Serrano Zamora is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Groningen.
Introduction: From Massive Evictions to Deepening Democracy
Chapter 1: The Two Values of Democracy
Chapter 2: Axel Honneth: Struggle for Recognition and Democratic Advancement
Chapter 3: John Dewey: The Political Potential of Democracy's Epistemic Dimension
Chapter 4: From Contents to Practices: Points of Departure
Chapter 5: The Double Counter-Hegemonic Potential of Experimentalist Practices
Chapter 6: Experimental Epistemic Practices in Social Movements
Chapter 7: Consciousness-Rising Meetings as Experimental Inquiries
Chapter 8: Articulating a Sense of Powers: An Expressivist Reading of Dewey's Theory of Social Struggles
Just Serrano Zamora’s book offers a fresh insight into democratic theory that blends empirical investigation of social movements with a rigorous theoretical reconstruction of the concept of democracy. Serrano Zamora’s theory unfolds at the crossroad of pragmatism and critical theory, which he masterfully brings to a new level of theoretical synthesis.
Drawing on rich empirical material and on Dewey’s democratic theory, Just Serrano Zamora shows struggles for social justice in a new light: as processes for the democratic articulation of political demands. He convincingly argues that these are signs of hope for deepened democratic practices, with the potential of reviving our understanding of democracy.
Required reading for anyone who needs evidence of the contemporary relevance of Dewey’s ideas on democracy and epistemology in political theory, in particular critical social theory, and understanding and appreciating the potential of today’s social movements in deepening democracy.