On poetry, pragmatism and the urban possibility of creative democracy

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Democracy everywhere is under siege, overwhelmed by oligarchy, apathy, bureaucracy, and spectacle, at best an ideal that has never been achieved. Yet against the dystopian vision of post-democracy and the post-political is what John Dewey, more than a half-century ago, called “creative democracy,” a moral practice of radical equality in the pragmatic, collective project of hammering out answers to the question of how we should live. This article explores Dewey’s concept of creative democracy as a moral idea, a personal ethic, a collective commitment, and a precondition for political practice. Establishing the conditions for creative democracy requires a significant reconsideration of the education of democratically competent citizens and of the democratic practice of research and knowledge production. Creative democracy is a poetic project, an imaginative opening, an ethical possibility, a shared responsibility, and a practice of hope that opens a path to achieving a better kind of life to be lived.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-494
Number of pages16
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 21 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


  • Democracy
  • John Dewey
  • pragmatism


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