What is PEGS?

The Committee for the Political Economy of the Good Society (PEGS) is a nonpartisan, ideologically diverse, nonprofit organization whose goal is to promote serious and sustained inquiry into innovative institutional designs for a good society.

PEGS responds to the growing awareness that current versions of socialism and democratic capitalism fail to offer workable visions of a good society and seem increasingly to contradict such basic values as liberty, democracy, equality, and environmental sustainability.

By encouraging development of practical visions of the good society, PEGS hopes to create a theoretical basis for the eventual restructuring of real world political-economic systems.

The Problem

PEGS is based on the realization that many of the major problems facing today’s societies reflect existing political and economic structures and cannot be resolved without significant changes to these underlying institutional arrangements.

Such problems as increasing disparities in economic and political power, environmental damage, welfare dependency, growing bureaucratization, and political alienation can be seen as inherent features of existing institutional arrangements that the institutions themselves help to propagate.

Nevertheless, institutional analysis and reform currently receive little attention, and existing political and economic theories offer insufficient guidance on how alternative institutional arrangements might avoid or reduce these major social problems.

The great traditions of good society thinking—modern liberalism, socialism, libertarianism, and conservatism—have been unable to adapt to the modern reality of complex, heterogeneous, interdependent societies.

The PEGS Response

To help create these new visions, PEGS brings together a diverse international network of thinkers engaged in good society analysis and works to increase knowledge and action regarding institutional alternatives.

To help bridge some of the gaps between academic inquiry and practical reality, PEGS includes active participation by interested thinkers from business, politics, journalism, and the activist community, as well as from academia. 

 
Who is in PEGS?

The PEGS Board Members and Institutional Sponsors include a growing number of prominent thinkers and organizations.

Executive Board:

Stephen L. Elkin, Chair, University of Maryland

Karol Soltan, University of Maryland

Gar Alperovitz, National Center for Economic and Security Alternatives

Editors

Joshua A. Miller, Editor

Jeremy Janow, Managing Editor

Gregory A. McBrayer, Senior Editor

Matt Chick, Assistant Managing Editor

Habib Gharib, Assistant Managing Editor

Aaron Hanna, Assistant Managing Editor

Darragh McNally, Assistant Managing Editor

Steven L. Elkin, Founding Editor

Editorial Board

Stephen L. Elkin, Chair

Paul Dragos Aligica

Gar Alperovitz

Kathryn M. Doherty

Harry Boyte

Archon Fung

Mark A. Graber

Peter Levine

Karol Sołtan

Thad Williamson

Teaching for a Good Society

Basic Democratic Theory:

Mackie. Political Science 200B: Democracy. Fall 2009: UCSD.

Shapiro. PLSC 574a: Topics in Democratic Theory. Fall 2009: Yale.

Swaine. Government 60.04: Liberalism and Its Critics. Fall 2009: Dartmouth College.

Schwartzberg. Political Science W3120: Problems in Democratic Theory. Spring 2009: Columbia.

Honig. Political Science 467: Basic Problems in Democratic Theory: The Political Stakes of the Ethical Turn. Spring 2010, NU.

MacMullen. Political Science 393: History of Political Thought III: Liberty, Democracy, and Revolution. Spring 2010: Washington University in St. Louis.

Mansbridge. DPI-216: Democratic Theory. Spring 2010: Kennedy School of Government.

Spinner-Halev. Political Science 472H: Democratic Theory. Spring 2010: UNC.

Deliberative Democracy:

Mackie. Political Science 581: Deliberative Democracy. Spring 2004: University of Notre Dame.

Bickford. Political Science 472: Problems of Modern Democratic Theory. Spring 2010: UNC.

Gastil. Political Science 455: Deliberative Democracy. University of Washington.

Global Democratic Theory:

Cohen. G 4626: Global Justice and Democracy. Fall 2009.

Norris. DPI‐403: Democratic Governance. Fall 2009: Kennedy School of Government.

Marinov. PLSC171: Western Promotion of Democracy. Spring 2010: Yale.

Rensmann. POLSCI  400: Selected Topics in Political Theory. Universityof Michigan.

Problems of Inequality:

Graetz and Shapiro. PLSC 287 / PLSC 565: Democracy and Distribution. Fall 2009: Yale.

Minnite. BC3300: Colloqium on Participation and Democracy. Fall 2009: Barnard College, Columbia University.

Hacker. PS 203 01: Inequality and American Democracy: Participation, Power, and Policy. Spring 2010: Yale.

Social Choice:

Mackie. Political Science 473: Social Choice and Democratic Theory. Fall 2003: University of Notre Dame.

Nagel. Political Science 475-402: Social Choice and Democratic Theory. Fall 2009: University of Pennsylvania.

A PEGS Reader

Recent and Recommended Books

Alonso, Sonia, John Keane and Wolgang Merkel eds., The Future of Representative Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Balfour, Lawrie. Democracy’s Reconstruction: Thinking Politically with W.E.B. Du Bois. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Balkin, Jack. Constitutional Redemption: Political Faith in an Unjust World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011.

Basu, Kaushik. Beyond the Invisible Hand: Groundwork for a New Economics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010.

Calhoun, Emily. Losing Twice: Harms of Indifference in the Supreme Court. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Clemens, Elisabeth and Doug Guthrie. Politics and Partnerships: The Role of Voluntary Associations in America’s Political Past and Present. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Dunn, Charles.  The Future of Religion in American Politics. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2009.

Dryzek, John. Foundations and Frontiers of Democratic Governance. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Eisgruber, Christopher and Lawrence Sager. Religious Freedom and the Constitution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010.

Fishkin, James. When the People Speak: Deliberative Democracy and Public Consultation. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Frank, Jason. Constituent Moments: Enacting the People in Postrevolutionary America. Durham, NC: Duke University Press Books, 2009.

Gastil, John, E. Pierre Dees, Philip J. Weiser, and Cindy Simmons. The Jury and Democracy: How Jury Deliberation Promotes Civic Engagement and Political Participation. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Green, Jeffrey. The Eyes of the People: Democracy in an Age of Spectatorship. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Habermas, Jurgen, Judith Butler, Charles Taylor, and Cornel West. The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.

Hirschl, Ran. Constitutional Theocracy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010.

Kane, John, Haig Patapan, and Paul ‘t Hart. Dispersed Democratic Leadership: Origins, Dynamics, and Implications. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Kleinerman, Benjamin. The Discretionary President: The Promise and Peril of Executive Power. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2009.

Mazzini, Giuseppe. Stefano Recchia and Nadia Urbinati, eds. A Cosmopolitan of Nations: Giuseppe Mazzini’s Writings on Democracy, Nation Building, and International Relations. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009.

McCormick, John. Machiavellian Democracy. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Posner, Eric and Adrian Vermeule. The Executive Unbound: After the Madisonian Republic. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Quong, Jonathan. Liberalism Without Perfection. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Rana, Aziz. The Two Faces of American Freedom. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010.

Rasmussen, Dennis. The Problems and Promise of Commercial Society: Adam Smith’s Response to Rousseau. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008.

Ringen, Stein. What Democracy Is For: On Freedom and Moral Government. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009.

Shapiro, Ian. The Real World of Democratic Theory. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011.

Smith, Steven. The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010.

Stears, Marc. Demanding Democracy: American Radicals in Search of a New Politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010.

Stout, Jeffrey. Blessed Are the Organized: Grassroots Democracy in America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010.

Sunstein, Cass. A Constitution of Many Minds. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009.

Tulis, Jeffrey and Stephen Macedo, eds. The Limits of Constitutional Democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010.

Recent and Recommended Articles

Balkin, Jack and Sanford Levinson. “Constitutional Dictatorship: Its Dangers and Its Design.” Minnesota Law Review, 94 (2010): 1789-1866.

Barker, Derek. “The Colonization of Civil Society,” Kettering Review 28:1 (Fall 2010): 8-18.

Blau, Adrian. “Rationality and Deliberative Democracy: A Constructive Critique of John Dryzek's Democratic Theory.” Contemporary Political Theory 10 (2011): 37-57.

Dimova-Cookson, Maria. “Republicanism, Philosophy of Freedom and the History of Ideas: An Interview with Philip Pettit.” Contemporary Political Theory 9:4 (November 2010): 477-489.

Disch, Lisa. “Toward a Mobilization Conception of Political Representation.” American Political Science Review 105:1 (2011): 100-114.

Dryzek, John. “Rhetoric in Democracy: A Systematic Appreciation.” Political Theory 38 (2010): 319-339.

Etzioni, Amitai. “Is Transparency the Best Disinfectant?” Journal of Political Philosophy 18:4 (December 2010): 389-404.

Ralston, Shane. “Dewey's Theory of Moral (and Political) Deliberation Unfiltered.” Education and Culture 26 (2010): 23-43.

Sajó, András. “Emotions in Constitutional Design.” International Journal of Constitutional Law 8:3 (July 2010): 354-384.

Recent and Recommended Symposia

“Political Realism.” European Journal of Political Theory 9:4 (October 2010): 381-503.

“Reading James Tully, Public Philosophy in a New Key.” Political Theory 39:1 (February 2011): 112-160.

 “Representation and Randomness.” Constellations: International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory 17:3 (September 2010): 426-487.

“The Evolving Concept of Citizenship in Constitutional Law.” International Journal of Constitutional Law 8:1 (January 2010): 6-130.

“What Should Constitutions Do?” Social Philosophy and Policy 28:1 (2011): 1-324.

Links

Coming Soon…

What's New?

PEGS' Panel at the 2012 American Political Science Association Conference: What Future for Civic Studies?

Saturday, September 1st, 4:15-6:30PM

Panelists:

  • Paul Dragos Aligica, George Mason University
  • Karol E Soltan, University of Maryland
  • Harry C. Boyte, Augsburg College
  • Meira Levinson, Harvard University
  • Filippo Sabette, McGill University
 
PEGS Panels & Conferences

In addition to publishing a journal, The Good Society, PEGS has published three books, sponsors panels at academic conferences and holds independent conferences.

The first PEGS conference on Good Society questions was held at Yale University. PEGS co-sponsored a conference in the fall of 1994 on “A New Constitutionalism: Designing Political Institutions for a Good Society.”

With the support of the Americans Talk Issues Foundation, PEGS held a conference on "Citizen Judgment and the Design of Democratic Institutions" in Washington D.C. in February 1995.

PEGS regularly sponsors a panel as a related group at the American Political Science Association’s annual meeting.

Upcoming Conferences

A New Constitutionalism Revisited

PEGS Roundtable at the 2010 American Political Science Conference

The Committee on the Political Economy of the Good Society (PEGS) is based on the realization that many of the major problems facing today's societies reflect existing political and economic structures and cannot be resolved without significant changes to these underlying institutional arrangements. Such problems as increasing disparities in economic and political power, environmental damage, welfare dependency, growing bureaucratization, and political alienation can be seen as inherent features of existing institutional arrangements that the institutions themselves help to propagate.

PEGS’ first book A New Constitutionalism: Designing Political Institutions for a Good Society was published in 1993, with the conviction that something systematic can be said about how political institutions work and can be made to work, how they may be assembled into the large wholes of political regimes, and why some regimes are better than others. This panel will revisit this endeavor for a new constitutionalism—identifying its accomplishments, missteps, and future prospects.

Roundtable Panelists:

  • Stephen L. Elkin, University of Maryland
  • Stephen M. Griffin, Tulane University Law School
  • Paul Dragos Aligica, George Mason University
  • Karol E. Soltan, University of Maryland

 

Past Conferences

Modern Democracy and the New Property

Location: Annual Conference of the American Political Science Association in Boston, MA (room TBA)
Time: August 29, 2002, 3:30 p.m.

Participants:

  • Gregory S. Alexander, Cornell Law School
  • Elizabeth Bussiere, University of Massachusetts, Boston
  • Linda McClain, Hofstra University School of Law
  • William Treanor, Fordham University School of Law
  • Stephen Simon, University of Maryland
  • Chair: Bradley D. Hays, University of Maryland

With the participation of distinguished scholars, who will also be contributing articles to an upcoming print symposium on “Modern Democracy and the New Property” in The Good Society, the roundtable promises to be an intellectually stimulating exchange on the evolution of democracy and how our legal and political conceptions of property will affect democratic practice.

 

Citizen Competence and the Design of Democratic Institutions

Washington, D.C., February 10-11, 1995

Panel I: What is Citizen Competence?

  • John Gaventa - "Citizen Knowledge, Citizen Competence, and Democracy Building"
  • Robert Lane - "The Joyless Polity: Contributions of Democratic Processes To Ill-Being"
  • Karol Soltan - "Citizen Competence"
  • Nancy Rosenblum - "Navigating Pluralism: The Democracy of Everyday Life"

Panel II: How to Study Citizen Competence

  • Samuel Popkin - "Causes and Consequences of Citizen Disconnect"
  • Alan Kay - "Deliberative Survey Research to Uncover Citizen Competence and Judgement"
  • Joe Oppenheimer and Norman Frohlich -"Values, Policies and Citizen Competence: An Experimental Perspective"
  • Benjamin Page and Robert Shapiro - "The Rational Public and Beyond"

Panel III: How to Strengthen Citizen Competence

  • Jane Mansbridge -"Does Participation Make Better Citizens"
  • Benjamin Barber - "An American Civic Forum: Civil Society Between Market, Individuals and the Political Community"
  • Frank Bryan - "Direct Democracy and Civic Competence: The Case of the Town Meeting"
  • Harry Boyte - "Beyond Deliberation: Citizenship as Public Work"
  • Elizabeth Gerber and Arthur Lupia - "Competitve Campaigns and Citizen Competence in Direct Legislation Elections"

Panel IV: How to Increase the Effectiveness of Competent Citizens

  • James Fishkin - "Bringing Deliberation to Democracy: The British Experiment"
 
PEGS Books
Current Issue

The Good Society is published two times per year by the Pennsylvania State University Press in cooperation with PEGS.

Online

Subscriptions

 
Past Issues
Contact Us

Address
Department of Government and Politics
3140 Tydings Hall
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

Email
goodsociety@umd.edu

//