What Is Society?

  • Harry CollinsEmail author
  • Robert Evans
  • Darrin Durant
  • Martin Weinel


Societies are distinguished by what their citizens take for granted. In ‘Western societies’ most citizens agree, among other things, about the need for regular elections with near-universal franchises, how to treat strangers, the poor and the sick. These understandings are sedimented in the course of socialisation and constitute the organic face of societies; there is so much agreement that such things don’t usually feature in political manifestos. Citizens record more detailed, varying, and self-conscious choices in elections, giving rise to the enumerative face of societies. Populism deliberately confuses the enumerative face with the organic face. Citizens can make non-democratic leaders accountable only if they know what democracy means; this is the law of conservation of democracy.


Nature of society Organic face Enumerative face Populism Conservation of democracy 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harry Collins
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert Evans
    • 1
  • Darrin Durant
    • 2
  • Martin Weinel
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social SciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  2. 2.Historical & Philosophical StudiesUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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