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Decisiveness and Fear of Disorder

Political Decision-Making in Times of Crisis

Subjects: Political Science, Governance, Human Rights, Political History
Open Access : 9780472903399, 200 pages, 6 figures, 2 tables, 6 x 9, March 2024
Paperback : 9780472056057, 200 pages, 6 figures, 2 tables, 6 x 9, March 2024
Hardcover : 9780472076055, 200 pages, 6 figures, 2 tables, 6 x 9, March 2024

The open access version of this book is made available thanks in part to the support of libraries participating in Knowledge Unlatched
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Examines how the need to appear decisive becomes the paramount consideration for politicians in crisis situations

Table of contents

PART I: THEORY                                                                                                     
Chapter 1: A pluralistic conception of laws as social institutions
Chapter 2: Upholding appearances in times of crisis
Chapter 3: From sacred order to a constitutional amendment
PART III: THE "REFUGEE CRISIS"                                               
Chapter 4: From welcome culture to loss of control
PART IV: DISCUSSION                                                                                           
Chapter 5: Decisiveness, rights and irregular migration
Chapter 6: Decisiveness in contemporary democratic politics
Chapter 7: Decisiveness and the crisis of democracy


Decisiveness and Fear of Disorder examines how democratic representatives make decisions in crisis situations. By analyzing parliamentary asylum debates from Germany’s Asylum Compromise in 1992-1993 and the 2015-2016 refugee crisis, Julius Rogenhofer identifies representatives’ ability to project decisiveness as a crucial determinant for whether the rights and demands of irregular migrants were adequately considered in democratic decision-making. Both crisis situations showcase an emotive dimension to the parliamentary meaning-making process. As politicians confront fears of social and political disorder, they focus on appearing decisive in the eyes of the public and fellow representatives, even at the expense of human rights considerations and inclusive deliberation processes. 

Rogenhofer shows how his theoretical approach allows us to reinterpret a range of crisis situations beyond the irregular migration context, including democracies’ initial responses to Covid-19, the European Sovereign Debt Crisis, and United States climate politics. These additional case studies help position concerns with decisiveness amid the challenges that populism and technocracy increasingly pose to representative democracies.

Julius Maximilian Rogenhofer is a solicitor and a Visiting Fellow at KU Leuven.