Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

The world is plural: Democratic contributions of Hannah Arendt

Lena Kay Zuckerwise, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Drawing on seminal texts and lesser known works, this dissertation brings the political theory of Hannah Arendt into the company of several key debates in democratic theory. Though she is most renowned for her theory of political action, it is my contention that Arendt’s concept of World can productively change the very terms by which democratic politics is most often understood and questioned. World, in this case, refers to physical and symbolic matters of commonality that are constructed by and for humans. This project begins with a genealogy of that traces its development of World through Arendt’s own biography including her experience as a female philosopher decades before the feminist movement, German Jewish refugee, and immigrant living in the United States. The following chapter explores the shortcomings of Arendt’s concept of political action, arguing in particular that it limits and forecloses democratic political possibilities. The third chapter brings World to bear on the question of whether unity or difference is necessary for the consolidation of the demos, a well-mined debate in democratic theory that the conceptual terms of World can alter and amend. The final section uses the concept of World to contest the popular depiction of globalization that Thomas Friedman champions in his well known works. This is in service of an argument that World can offer a productive critique of the destructive aspects of globalization, particularly the narrative of capitalist inevitability that often undergirds them.^

Subject Area

Philosophy|Political science

Recommended Citation

Zuckerwise, Lena Kay, "The world is plural: Democratic contributions of Hannah Arendt" (2010). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3427615.