Contemporary Political Theory

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 478–510 | Cite as

Benjamin Barber and the Practice of Political Theory

  • Richard BattistoniEmail author
  • Mark B. Brown
  • John Dedrick
  • Lisa Disch
  • Jennet Kirkpatrick
  • Jane Mansbridge
Critical Exchange

The realm of politics invites cynicism, but it always engenders hope…Politics at its best allows us to decide together as citizens how to undo the inadvertent common effects of all that we do one by one as consumers and producers, or what we do when private interests and prejudice seize the institutions of the state to try to undo public goods. It is the arena where public goods can trump private interests, where the commonwealth can become a measure of higher purposes and the mirror of public values. But politics is hardly at its best right now, and [t]he weakness of politics undermines democracy—the faith behind politics. —Benjamin R. Barber (2017, pp. 7–8)

Benjamin Reynolds Barber died on April 24, 2017 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 77 years old, survived by his wife Leah, three children, and six grandchildren. His work and his legacy span a range of activities and publications that bear witness to a remarkable journey of invention and reinvention. He is probably...


  1. American Historical Association. (2017) Statement on Confederate Monuments, August 20.
  2. American Historical Association. (2018) Historians on the Confederate Monuments Debate.
  3. Bächtiger, A. and Hangartner, D. (2010) “When Deliberative Theory Meets Empirical Political Science: Theoretical and Methodological Challenges in Political Deliberation.” Political Studies 58(4): 609–629.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bächtiger, A. Dryfus, J. Mansbridge, J. and Warren, M. (2018) Introduction. In: The Oxford Handbook of Deliberative Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Barber, B. (1971) Superman and Common Men: Freedom, Anarchy, and the Revolution. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  6. Barber, B. (1974) The Death of Communal Liberty: A History of Freedom in a Swiss Mountain Canton. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Barber, B. (1981) Marriage Voices. New York: Summit Books.Google Scholar
  8. Barber, B. (1984) Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  9. Barber, B. (1988) The Conquest of Politics: Liberal Philosophy in Democratic Times. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Barber, B. (1989) The civic mission of the university. Kettering Review Fall: 62–72.Google Scholar
  11. Barber, B. (1992) An Aristocracy of Everyone: The Politics of Education and the Future of America. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
  12. Barber, B. (1995a) Jihad Versus McWorld. New York: Times Books.Google Scholar
  13. Barber, B. (1995b) Public space for a civil society in eclipse. Kettering Review Fall Edition: 22–30.Google Scholar
  14. Barber, B. (1997) Afterword. In: Battistoni, R. and Hudson, W. (eds.) Experiencing Citizenship: Concepts and Models for Service-Learning in Political Science. Herndon: AAHE/Stylus Publishing.Google Scholar
  15. Barber, B. (1998a) A Place for Us: How to Make Society Civil and Democracy Strong. New York: Hill and Wang.Google Scholar
  16. Barber, B. (1998b) Foundationalism and Democracy. In A Passion for Democracy: American Essays. Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp. 19–34.Google Scholar
  17. Barber, B. (2001) The Truth of Power: Intellectual Affairs in the Clinton White House. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  18. Barber, B. (2006) The politics of political science: ‘Value-free’ theory and the Wolin–Strauss dust-up of 1963. The American Political Science Review 100(4): 539–554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Barber, B. (2011) Occupy Wall Street—‘We Are What Democracy Looks Like.’ Huffington Post. November 7.—we-a_b_1079723.html.
  20. Barber, B. (2013). If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities. New Haven: Yale University Press. Google Scholar
  21. Barber, B. (2017) Cool Cities: Urban Sovereignty and the Fix for Global Warming. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Barber, B. (mss. nd) An American Civic Forum: Re-illuminating Public Space for a Civil Society in Eclipse.Google Scholar
  23. Barber, B. and Battistoni, R. (eds.). (2011) Education for Democracy, revised edn. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  24. Battistoni, R. (2002) Civic Engagement Across the Curriculum: A Resource Book for Service-Learning Faculty in All Disciplines. Providence RI: Campus Compact.Google Scholar
  25. Bickford, S. (1996) The Dissonance of Democracy: Listening, Conflict, and Citizenship. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Birchler, L. (1969) Viefalt der Urschweiz. Freiburg: Walter-Verlag.Google Scholar
  27. Black, L, Thomas, N. and Shaffer, T. (eds.). (2014) Journal of Public Deliberation Special Issue: State of the Field, Vol. 10, Issue 1.
  28. Boyte, H. (2004). Everyday Politics Reconnecting Citizens and Public Life. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  29. Boyte, H. and Barber, B. (1994) A call for new citizenship: A new citizenship project of the American Civic Forum. In: An Occasional Paper of the Kettering Foundation, Dayton, OH.Google Scholar
  30. Boyte H. and, Kari, N. (1996) Building America: The Democratic Promise of Public Work. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Boyte, H. et al. (2018) Awaking Democracy Through Public Work. Nashville TN: Vanderbilt Press.Google Scholar
  32. Brown, D. (ed.). (2004) What is ‘public’ about what academics do? An exchange with Robert Kingston and Peter Levine. Higher Education Exchange 17–29.Google Scholar
  33. Brus, M. et al. (1992) Jihad vs McWorld (letters to the editor). The Atlantic 269: 8.Google Scholar
  34. Clinton, W. (1993) Remarks on National Service at Rutgers University.
  35. Cohen, J. (1989) Deliberation and democratic legitimacy. In: A. Hamlin and P. Pettit (eds.) The Good Polity. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  36. Deliberative Democracy Consortium.
  37. Fisher, R. and Ury, W. (1991). Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  38. Follett, M. [1925] (1942) Constructive conflict. In: H.C. Metcalf and L. Urwick (eds.) Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  39. Fukuyama, F. (1995) Political and legal—Jihad vs. McWorld: How the planet is both falling apart and coming together and what this means for democracy by Benjamin R. Barber. Foreign Affairs 74: 116.Google Scholar
  40. Gastil, J. and Levine, P. (eds.). (2005) The Deliberative Democracy Handbook: Strategies for Effective Civic Engagement in the 21st Century. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  41. Gibson, C. (2006). Citizens at the Center: A New Approach to Civic Engagement. Washington, DC: Case Foundation.
  42. Global Parliament of Mayors.
  43. Goodin, R. (2008) Innovating Democracy: Democratic Theory and Practice after the Deliberative Turn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Habermas, J. [1962] (1989) The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Trans. T. Burger and F. Lattimore. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  45. Jacoby, R. (1987) The Last Intellectuals: American Culture in the Age of Academe. New York. Basic Books.Google Scholar
  46. Jacoby, R. (2000) Intellectuals and their discontents. Hedgehog Review fall issue: 36–52.
  47. Jamieson, K. H., Kahan, D. and Scheufele, D. A. (eds.). (2017) The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Juergensmeyer, M. (1996) Global society. Contemporary Sociology 25: 588–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Kauffman, G. (2018) How Should We Convey the History of Jacksonville? Monuments, Parks and People. Issues Forums in Jacksonville FL. Jesse Ball DuPont Fund.Google Scholar
  50. Kemmis, D. and McKinney, M. (2011) Collaboration and the ecology of democracy. In: A Report for the Kettering Foundation, Dayton OH.Google Scholar
  51. Leighninger, M. (2006) The Next Form of Democracy: How Expert Rule is Giving Way to Shared Governance and Why Politics Will Never Be the Same. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press 2006.Google Scholar
  52. Levine, P. (2013) We are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: The Promise of Civic Renewal in America. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Lukensmeyer, C. (2013) Bringing Citizens Voices to the Table: A Guide for Public Managers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  54. London, S. (1992) The politics of education: An interview with Benjamin R. Barber.
  55. Mansbridge, J. (1987) Review of Benjamin Barber. Strong Democracy, American Political Science Review 81: 1341–1342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Mansbridge, J. and Latura, A. (2017) The polarization crisis in the US and the future of listening. In: T. Norris (ed.) Strong Democracy in Crisis: Promise or Peril? New York: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  57. Mansbridge, J., Bohman, J., Chambers, S., Estlund, D., Føllesdal, A., Fung, A., Lafont, C., Manin, B. and Martí, J. (2010) The place of self-interest and the role of power in deliberative democracy. The Journal of Political Philosophy 18(1): 64–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Mathews, D. (1994) Politics for People: Finding a Responsible Public Voice. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  59. Mathews, D. (2014) The Ecology of Democracy: Finding Ways to Have a Stronger Hand in Shaping Our Future. Dayton, OH: Kettering Foundation Press.Google Scholar
  60. McCartney, A., Bennion, E. and Simpson, D. (eds.). (2013) Teaching Civic Engagement: From Student to Active Citizen. Washington, DC: American Political Science Association.Google Scholar
  61. McCoy, M. and Scully, P. (2002) Deliberative dialogue to expand civic engagement: What kind of talk does democracy need? National Civic Review Summer Issue 91(2): 117–135. Scholar
  62. Melville, K., Willingham, T. and Dedrick, J. (2005) National issues forums: A network of communities promoting public deliberation. In: J. Gastil and M. Leighninger (eds.). Deliberative Democracy Handbook. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  63. Mitchell, E. (2017) What happened to America’s public intellectuals? Smithsonian Magazine July.
  64. Morse, S. (2014) Smart Communities: How Citizens and Local Leaders Can Use Strategic Thinking to Build a Brighter Future, Second edn. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  65. Bill Moyers Journal. (2007) Interview with Benjamin R. Barber. Benjamin R. Barber on Capitalism and Democracy. Aired December 21.
  66. National Council for Dialogue and Deliberation.
  67. National Issues Forums Institute.
  68. Reagan, R. (1981) Inaugural address, January 20.
  69. Sanders, L. (1997) Against deliberation. Political Theory 25(3): 347–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Saunders, H. (2005) Politics Is About Relationship: A Worldview for the Citizens’ Century. Revised edn. New York: Palgrave McMillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Sirianni, C. and Friedland, L. (2001) Civic Innovation in America: Community Empowerment, Public Policy and the Movement for Civic Renewal. Berkley, CA: University of California Press (see especially section on New Citizenship project 249–254)Google Scholar
  72. Sirianni, C. and Friedland, L. (2005) The Civic Renewal Movement: Community Building and Democracy in the United States. Dayton OH: Kettering Foundation Press.Google Scholar
  73. Smith, A. (1759) The Theory of Moral Sentiments. London: A. Millar.Google Scholar
  74. Students for a Democratic Society. (1962) The Port Huron Statement. New York: Mimeo.
  75. Sunstein, C. (1988) Beyond the republican revival. The Yale Law Journal 97(8): 1539–1590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Thaler, R. and Sunstein, C. (2009) Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness. Revised edn. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  77. Tobler, J. (1971) Dossier Schweiz: Demokratie. Zurich: Ringier-Bilderdienst.Google Scholar
  78. United States National Commission on Excellence in Education. Department of Education. (1983) A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform : A Report to the Nation and the Secretary of Education. Washington, DC: The Commission [Supt. of Docs., U.S. G.P.O. distributor].Google Scholar
  79. Veninga, J. and McAfee, N. (eds.) (1997) Standing with the Public. Dayton, OH: Kettering Foundation Press.Google Scholar
  80. Walt Whitman Center for the Culture and Politics of Democracy. (1997) Measuring Citizenship Project Final Report. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.Google Scholar
  81. Walton, R. and McKersie, R. (1965) A Behavioral Theory of Labor Negotiations: An Analysis of a Social Interaction System. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  82. Warren, M. and Mansbridge, J. et al. (2016) Deliberative negotiation. In: Political Negotiation. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  83. Williams, B. (1969) The idea of equality. In: W.T. Blackstone (ed.) The Concept of Equality. Minneapolis: Burgess Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  84. Wolfe, A. (1986) Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age (Book Review). Society, 23.Google Scholar
  85. Young, I. (1996) Communication and the Other: Beyond Deliberative Democracy. In: S. Benhabib (ed.) Democracy and Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  86. Zakaria, F. (1996) Paris is Burning. New Republic, 214: 27–31.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Battistoni
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mark B. Brown
    • 2
  • John Dedrick
    • 3
  • Lisa Disch
    • 4
  • Jennet Kirkpatrick
    • 5
  • Jane Mansbridge
    • 6
  1. 1.Providence CollegeProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.California State UniversitySacramentoUSA
  3. 3.The Kettering FoundationDaytonUSA
  4. 4.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  5. 5.Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  6. 6.John F. Kennedy School of GovernmentHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations