The Research Project

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The Civic Constellation Project


Civic Constellation II: Debating Democracy and Rights

Reference Code: FFI2014-52703-P (2015-2018)

The Civic Constellation: A Conceptual and Argumentative Study of the Democratic Experience

Reference Code: FFI2011-23388 (2012-2014)

Democracy is, indissolubly, a form of government and a political ideal. It is not possible to understand one without the other, but each one has different theoretical assumptions and practical implications. Ideals play a role in understanding real democracies. They orient practices and devise languages, justify actions and legitimize projects. Yet they are as contingent as the historical realizations of democracy they presumably inspire. Reversely, the practice of democracy influences, or can influence, the theory’s normative tenets.

Real democracies are discredited due to the oligarchic effects of party systems, but they are also criticized for being inefficient regimes, and for not being pluralist enough, participatory enough, deliberative enough. Yet hardly ever arguments are confronted with their normative assumptions, as if they were rationally justified. The project argues the need to critically recast them and to balance democratic theory’s normativism with a closer attention to history and politics.

Contact Information

José María Rosales, jmrosales (at)

Manuel Toscano, mtoscano (at)

Acknowledgements & Disclaimer

The Civic Constellation Project gratefully acknowledges Spain’s National Research Fund’s (Plan Estatal de I+D+i) financial support and the University of Málaga’s institutional assistance, as well as the cooperation of its International Partners. The information published in this page, which is intended to publicize the project’s activities, reflects the authors’ views, not their institutions’.

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