This paper explains why elections are popular in India and why voter turnouts have remained stable. The evidence presented here shows that voters consider the electoral process itself as important, as this allows for the performative expression of the core ideals of democracy, citizenship, duty and rights, equality, cooperation, imagination of a common good-values that are otherwise wholly missing from polity the rest of the time. It is precisely because of its absence in daily life that people feel the urge to embrace and celebrate these values when they are available during elections. Elections therefore emerge as aesthetic and ritual moments that allow for the inversion of the rules of normal social life. The resulting communitas creates a heightened awareness of what is missing in everyday hierarchical life, while simultaneously providing a glimpse of democracy's ideals of egalitarianism and cooperation.


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pp. 75-98
Launched on MUSE
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