For this, the final program in the series “Anxieties of Democracy,” presented by the Social Science Research Council at Roosevelt House, the SSRC convened a group of experts who explored how representative democracy can be strengthened at a time when there is great concern about whether the country’s core institutions – elections, political parties, legislatures, interest groups, social movements, and mass media – are capable of addressing the great questions of our time.

The evening was be devoted to the relationship of citizens to key institutions, degrees of public knowledge and patterns of political participation. This event specifically examined the role of human behavior in the political process, and how it can be an agent – and also roadblock – to political and economic development.

The conversation was moderated by Ira Katznelson, President of the Social Science Research Council and Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History at Columbia University. The panel featured two leading experts on American society: Jane Mansbridge, Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and Paul Starr, Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University and Stuart Professor of Communications and Public Affairs at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School.



Ira Katznelson  president of the SSRC and Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History at Columbia University

Ira Katznelson is an accomplished social scientist, whose distinctive scholarship ranges across multiple fields, including American politics, comparative politics, and political theory. Formerly, he taught at the University of Chicago, chairing its department of political science from 1979 to 1982, and at the New School for Social Research, where he was dean of the graduate faculty from 1983 to 1989. He was president of the American Political Science Association for 2005–2006, is a vice chair of the Academic Advisory Board of the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, and previously served as president of the Social Science History Association. Katznelson has been a Guggenheim Fellow and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. An influential and prolific author, he was the founding editor of the interdisciplinary journal Politics & Society. His latest book, Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time, was published in 2013 by Norton’s Liveright imprint.

In addition to his current position as president, Dr. Katznelson has played a leading role in many SSRC activities over the years, notably as a member of the Committee on States and Social Structures, a major Council initiative connecting new analyses of modern states within the social sciences, and a contributor to that committee’s volume on Bringing the State Back In (Cambridge University Press, 1985).

Jane J. Mansbridge  Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values

Jane J. Mansbridge is the author of Beyond Adversary Democracy, an empirical and normative study of face-to-face democracy, and the award-winning Why We Lost the ERA, a study of anti-deliberative dynamics in social movements based on organizing for an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. She is also editor or coeditor of the volumes Beyond Self-Interest, Feminism, and Oppositional Consciousness. Her current work includes studies of representation, democratic deliberation, everyday activism, and the public understanding of collective action problems.

Paul Starr  Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University and Stuart Professor of Communications and Public Affairs at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School

Professor Paul Starr’s current interests include institutional analysis, political sociology, and the sociology of knowledge, technology, and information, especially as they bear on democracy, equality, and freedom. He co-founded, with Robert Kuttner and Robert Reich, The American Prospect and served as a senior health policy advisor in the Clinton White House. His most recent book is Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle over Health Care Reform.

Anxieties of Democracy: Are the People the Problem? | Posted on April 9th, 2014 | Public Programs, SSRC Presents