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Agonism refers to a form of limited contest considered necessary for contemporary democracies. It gives political expression to differences and guards against the emergence of extreme forms of conflict that aim at fragmenting, if not undermining, democratic life. Theorists who have developed an agonistic account of democracy include William E. Connolly, Chantal Mouffe, Bonnie Honig, and James Tully. This entry briefly introduces the main tenets of agonistic theory and discusses the different versions that agonism takes in the work of its main proponents. It concludes with a discussion of the distinctive impact of the agonistic perspective on democratic theory.

Agonism and Democracy

The idea that agonism strengthens democracy is rooted in a set of theoretical assumptions about the nature of sociopolitical life. The first assumption is ...

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