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VOtIng Citizens and the Ethics of Democracy

Project description

The role of citizens in representative democracies

The role citizens play in democracies today has emerged as a topic of debate in modern societies. The function of democracies is conditioned by the relationship between citizens, the political parties and elected representatives. The political behaviour and will of citizens expressed through voting, as well as the kind of competence citizens should have (the knowledge and skills they need to make informed decisions), is instrumental for the functioning of representative democracies. The EU-funded VoiCED project will inquire about the role citizens should undertake in the democratic system and whether the citizens of today’s democracies have the required competence to act successfully.


VoiCED is a project in normative democratic theory and its aim is to provide a diversified theory of political obligation for citizens, political parties and elected representatives, by taking into account how these political actors relate to each other. Since the issue of citizen competence has forcefully risen attention not only in scientific debates, but also in the public discourse, a normative analysis is called for to understand what should be expected of citizens in representative democracies. This first step is necessary in order to evaluate, first and normatively, what kind of competence citizens ought to have and, second and empirically, whether actual citizens do have the competence needed for democracy to work properly. In so doing, VoiCED will not only tie together various literatures, such as those on political obligation, democratic legitimacy, partisanship and political representation, which albeit overlapping have been rarely addressed in conjunction, but it will also intercept highly relevant debates in contemporary political science, concerning political behaviour, the rationality of voting and citizens’ competence, as well as in the public discourse, regarding the nature and value of democracy.
Furthemore, VoiCED will provide the Experienced Researcher, Chiara Destri, with an unparalleled opportunity to enhance her research and teaching skills and to boost her academic career opportunities in Europe, because she will be hosted by Sciences Po, an internationally acclaimed centre in political and social science, and she will work under the supervision of Prof. Anabelle Lever, a leading expert in democratic theory. Thanks to both factors, she is confident that she will able to publish four scientific articles and to complete a book manuscript during the time of the Fellowship, as well as to set up a website in order to share the resulting theory with the public at large.


Net EU contribution
€ 184 707,84
75341 Paris

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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 184 707,84