UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Democratic theorists' childhood issues : coping with the inclusion/incapacity dilemma Gormley, Shannon Nicole


Children pose a problem for democratic theorists. On the one hand, democratic theorists place a high premium on citizens’ inclusion in decision-making processes; on the other hand, they believe that children have a low capacity to participate in political life. I call this the inclusion/incapacity dilemma, and consider three coping strategies that democratic theorists have devised to cope with it: the denial of the problematic nature of children’s exclusion from democracy, the diversion of children’s democratic rights to adult fiduciary authorities, and the delay of children’s inclusion through education. Arguing that none of these strategies have resolved the tension between theorists’ desire for citizens’ inclusion and their perception of children’s incapacity, I advocate a fourth strategy for theorists: broadening the meaning of democratic inclusion to incorporate participatory, rather than only representative, decision making spheres, and broadening their understanding of capacity to account for many, rather than only two, life stages.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International