This groundbreaking study sets out to clarify one of the most influential but least studied of all political concepts. Despite continual talk of popular sovereignty, the idea of the people has been neglected by political theorists who have been deterred by its vagueness. Margaret Canovan argues that it deserves serious analysis, and that it's many ambiguities point to unresolved political issues.
The book begins by charting the conflicting meanings of the people, especially in Anglo-American usage, and traces the concept's development from the ancient populus Romanus to the present day.
The book's main purpose is, however, to analyse the political issues signalled by the people's ambiguities. In the remaining chapters, Margaret Canovan considers their theoretical and practical aspects:
This original and accessible study sheds a fresh light on debates about popular sovereignty, and will be an important resource for students and scholars of political theory.
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Identifying the People
The Sovereign People in Action and in Myth
The People and its Past
The People in Action
From Shadow to Substance
The English People in Rebellion
The American Revolution and its Significance
Populism in Contemporary Liberal Democracies
Populism Democracy and the People
We the Sovereign People
Can Popular Sovereignty be Understood?
Can Popular Sovereignty be Exercised?
Myths of the Sovereign People
Myths of the People
Popular Sovereignty and Parliamentary Reform in Nineteenthcentury Britain
Popular Government and the People
Ourselves and Others People Nation and Humanity
People and Nation
Peoples and People
Part and Whole People Populism and Democracy
The Common People