Neo-Liberalism and the Liberal-Democratic Public Sphere

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:30
Location: Seminar 34 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Vessela MISHEVA, Department of Sociology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Neo-Liberalism and the Liberal-Democratic Public Sphere

Vessela Misheva

The paper examines the compatibility of economic and political liberalism to public-mindedness. It argues that such analyses normally omit the fact that not all entrepreneurial activity, that is associated today with neo-liberal imperative of rational economic behavior, is dominated by the principle of competition. More concretely, the neo-liberal rationality will be compared to liberal-democratic rationality in respect to the type of entrepreneurship they encourage and promote.

The discussion will be focused on the possibility of a liberal-democratic public sphere as a political body of public minded social entrepreneurs whose interests include cooperation in a joint act with the purpose of creating social value and public good. A distinction will be provided in this regard between economic profit and socio-psychological profit which then will be discussed in the context of the main principles of cooperation and symbolic interaction as characteristic for the liberal-democratic public sphere. The discussion will be supported by the analysis of the rise and fall of one exemplary public sphere located in Chicago with a lively liberal democratic discourse around the turn of the XXth century, known as Hull-House.