The revival of interest in pragmatism and its practical relevance for democracy has prompted a reconsideration of John Dewey’s political philosophy. Dewey’s The Public and Its Problems (1927) constitutes his richest and most systematic meditation on the future of democracy in an age of mass communication, governmental bureaucracy, social complexity, and pluralism. Drawing on his previous writings and prefiguring his later thinking, Dewey argues for the importance of civic participation and clarifies the meaning and role of the state, the proper relationship between the public and experts, and the source of democracy’s legitimacy. These themes remain as important today as they were when Dewey first engaged them, and this is the work to which scholars consistently turn when assessing Dewey’s conception of democracy and what might be imagined for democracy in our own time.
In this carefully annotated edition, Melvin L. Rogers provides an introductory essay that elucidates the philosophical and historical background of The Public and Its Problems while explaining the key ideas of the book. He also provides a biographical outline of Dewey’s life and bibliographical notes to assist student and scholar alike.