"‘Des moulins à paroles’. The struggle over the meaning of democracy in France, 1850-1851": Lucia Rubinelli (Yale University)

May 2, 2024, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
Open to Princeton University ID Holders


Event Description


The paper analyses how the direct appeal to the people was discussed in France from 1850 to 1852. It is during the Second Republic that the idea of directly involving the people in the law-making process becomes a concrete proposal and a political reality. It is extensively debated by socialist thinkers such as Proudhon, Ledru Rollin, Rittinghausen and Considerant to argue that political representation is, in fact, not democratic and that real democracy would require a sharp distinction between legislation and administration and the consequent direct involvement of the people in law-making through their participation in local assemblies, tasked with both drafting and approving legislative proposals of general import. These competing understandings of democracy, as theorized through debates about popular legislation in the mid-nineteenth century, foreground some of the fundamental challenges of representative politics and question the role of knowledge and expertise in legitimizing democratic procedures in the age of mass politics. 

Speaker Bio

Lucia Rubinelli is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University. Before joining Yale, she was Junior Research Fellow at Robinson College, Cambridge and Fellow at the LSE. She graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2017. Her first book, Constituent Power: A History came out with Cambridge University Press, Ideas in Context, in the spring of 2020. 

  • University Center for Human Values
  • Department of Politics