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Structured Skepticism and the Production of Trust

  • Apostolis Papakostas
Part of the Palgrave Studies in European Political Sociology book series (PSEPS)

Abstract

There are all kinds of devices invented for the protection and preservation of countries: defensive barriers, forts, trenches, and the like … But prudent minds have, as a natural gift, one safeguard which is the common possession of all, and this applies especially to the dealings of democracies. What is this safeguard? Skepticism. This you must preserve. This you must retain. If you can keep this, you need fear no harm.

The quote above is taken from the Second Philippic, a speech to the Athenian demos given by Demosthenes in 344–343 BC with the purpose of highlighting the dangers awaiting democracy in Athens if the Macedonian King Philip gained ground. Even though the words of Demosthenes are an elegant rhetorical overestimation of democracy’s ability to defend itself — and in a cynical way history has probably reminded us of this — it should be stated without reservation that skepticism is conceived of as a basic constituent for democracy’s functioning ever since democracy was founded in the cities of ancient Greece. Indeed, most of the forms of democracy and its practice are institutionalized forms of skepticism. That those in authority are elected and re-elected, that a number of democracies have formal limits as to how many times a person can be re-elected, that there are constitutional principles and controls for the division of power — these are all examples of democratic principles and practices founded on the distrust of power and its consolidation, or intended to protect against the abuse of power.

Keywords

Social Capital Doctoral Student Public Sphere Social Technology Evaluation Committee 
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Notes

  1. 5.
    The section on the architecture and history of the opera is based on the literature referred to in the main body of the text, as well as Garlington, Aubrey S. (2005). Society, Culture and Opera in Florence, 1814–1830. London: Ashgate; Grout, Donald Jay, and Margaret Dunn Grout (2003). A Short History of Opera. New York: Columbia University Press; Hardin, Terri (1999). Theatres & Opera Houses. New York: Todtri Book Publishers; Johnson, Victoria, Jane F. Fulcher and Thomas Ertman (Eds.) (2007). Opera and Society in Italy and France from Monteverdi Bourdieu. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Kaldor, Andras (2002). Great Opera Houses: Masterpieces of Architecture. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors’ Club Limited. Some information has also been taken from the Internet homepages of famous opera houses. In addition, I have attended guided tours of opera houses in some cities.Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    For the architecture of the Riksdag, see Hedkvist, Hedvig, and Susanna Blåvarg (2003). Möte med Sveriges riksdag. Arkitektur, konst och inredning. Sweden: Sveriges Riksdag.Google Scholar
  3. 10.
    The literature discussing these circumstances is extensive. For some of the more recent discussions, see Badie, Bertrand (2000). The Imported State: The Westernization of the Political Order. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press; Badie, Bertrand, and Pierre Birnbaum (1983). The Sociology of the State. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; Bendix, Reinhard (1968). State and Society: A Reader in Comparative Political Sociology. Boston: Little Brown; Bendix, Reinhard ([1964] I996). Nation-building and Citizenship: Studies of our Changing Social Order. London: Transaction Publishers; Evans, Peter B. (1995). Embedded Autonomy: States and Industrial Transformation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press; Evans, Peter B., Dietrich Rueschemeyer and Theda Skocpol (1985). Bringingthe State Back in. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    See for example Cleary, Matthew R., and Susan C. Stokes (2006). Democracy and the Culture of Skepticism. New York: Russell Sage Foundation; Dooley, Brandan (1999). The Social History of Skepticism. Experience and Doubt in Early Modern Time. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press; Popkin, Richard H. and José Maia Neto (2007). Skepticism. An Anthology. New York: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Apostolis Papakostas 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Apostolis Papakostas
    • 1
  1. 1.Södertörn UniversitySweden

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