chapter  1
14 Pages

A New Idea

ByAlain Touraine

Democracy is a new idea. There are now many indications that the regimes the authors describe as democratic are, like authoritarian regimes, being weakened, and that they are dominated by the demands of a world market that is protected and regulated by the might of the United States and by agreements between three primary centers of economic power. This chapter describes the construction of the individual as actor through the simultaneous assertion of liberty and assumption and reinterpretation of life experience. The subject is an attempt to transform a lived situation into free action; it introduces liberty into what initially seem to be social determinants and a cultural heritage. The very logic that attacked inherited inequalities degenerates into "scientific socialism", and the individualism that was once associated with liberty may reduce the citizen to little more than a political consumer. Democracy recognizes citizens as free individuals who also belong to economic or cultural collectivities.