A portrait of political historian and theorist Danielle Allen

Allen calls the social vision that incorporates her work on equality “egalitarian participatory democracy.” It evolved out of a belief that civic republicanism and liberalism, the most robust traditions of thought addressing democratic political equality, needed modification in order to work in a diverse modern society. Allen is trying to answer the same questions about liberty—about freedom from domination, and freedom to participate—that concern proponents of civic republicanism and liberalism, but says that, given the contemporary American context of great diversity, “the only way in which all the different parts of a population can be protected is if we focus first on political equality.” Her egalitarian participatory democracy is “participatory like civic republicanism; it’s egalitarian like a combination of civic republicanism and liberalism, but the emphasis is on democracy in order to underscore how important it is to secure political equality for everybody as the underpinning for achieving both kinds of freedom: the republican freedom and the liberal freedom.”