What We Are Reading Today: Western Europe’s Democratic Age by Martin Conway

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Updated 01 July 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Western Europe’s Democratic Age by Martin Conway

What happened in the years following World War II to create a democratic revolution in the western half of Europe? In Western Europe’s Democratic Age, Martin Conway provides an innovative new account of how a stable, durable, and remarkably uniform model of parliamentary democracy emerged in Western Europe — and how this democratic ascendancy held fast until the latter decades of the twentieth century.

Drawing on a wide range of sources, Conway describes how Western Europe’s postwar democratic order was built by elite, intellectual, and popular forces. Much more than the consequence of the defeat of fascism and the rejection of Communism, this democratic order rested on universal male and female suffrage, but also on new forms of state authority and new political forces — primarily Christian and social democratic — that espoused democratic values. Above all, it gained the support of the people, for whom democracy provided a new model of citizenship that reflected the aspirations of a more prosperous society.

This democratic order did not, however, endure. Its hierarchies of class, gender, and race.


What We Are Reading Today: Conditional Citizens

Updated 26 September 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Conditional Citizens

Author Laila Lalami structures Conditional Citizens as a series of personal vignettes and historical dives that are more broad than deep.
Lalami was born in Morocco and came to the US for graduate school. She stayed because she fell in love with an American, whom she married.
“Conditional citizens, in Lalami’s account, are not allowed to dissent or question the choices of their government; if they do, they are viewed with suspicion, their allegiance to their new country questioned. Conditional citizens also have less freedom of movement,” said Sonia Nazario in a review for The New York Times.
Lalami “is less insightful when she widens her lens to argue that all minorities in the United States — including people born here but of a race, faith or gender not shared by the dominant majority — are discriminated against by their government and others, a heavily worn argument,” Nazario added.
“While her book convincingly lays out the inequalities among citizens, she’s woefully short on remedies and specific ideas for achieving change,” the review said.