The Public World: An Idea Under Pressure
This chapter argues that ideas of a public, including popular concepts of public life, property, and service, have underpinned the institutions, policies, and practices of national democratic states since the consolidation of liberal culture in the late-eighteenth century. Accordingly, their importance in shaping lived experiences of democracy cannot be overstated. As these ideas have come under pressure in recent decades, critical scholars from a broad spectrum of backgrounds insist on the fundamental threat posed to democratic government by their erosion. A review of the role of culture in domesticating the evolving political economy of the liberal state project identifies a liberal spectrum, including classical liberalism, neo-liberalism, and a bifurcated post-liberalism, taking opposing radical and conservative forms.