The Signifiers of Democracy and Commons


  • Charalampos Magoulas Dept. of Sociology, National School of Public Health



Signifiers, democracy, commons, public sphere, liberalism, political autonomy


The current financial and moral crisis has triggered many discussions on the function of political in-stitutions as well as the degree of participation of the peoples in decision making and in the political life in gen¬eral. Another open issue in academic and political discussions is the management of common resources as well as what one could possibly call common (i.e. spaces, institutions, values, traditions, and customs). Many voices coming from the 20th century (Castoriadis, Arendt) are raising doubts about the form of our political systems the content of democracy and the use of public space. If we are indeed living in the era of a shift of paradigm in social and political life, humanities should treat the question of new forms of life, coexistence and governance and, hence contribute to the reconceptualisation of classical terms used to describe institutions, values and imaginary significations. This paper aims at examining the content of signifieds and the use of signifiers (signi¬fieds of the signifiers) related to political theory, such as democracy, public, private, common(s), in the work of liberal thinkers and thinkers supporting political autonomy theories, and thus participating in the overall discus¬sion regarding modern political transformations.