Dr Jean-Paul GagnonAssociate Fellow


Research Interests

Democratic theory, nonhuman democracy, democracy studies, histories of democracy, futures of democracy, economic democracy / democratic economy, global democracy.

Connect with Jean-Paul



Jean-Paul Gagnon is a philosopher of democracy specializing in democratic theory. He joined the University of Canberra at the beginning of July, 2015.

He co-founded, and co-edits, the Berghahn (Oxford/New York) journal Democratic Theory and established, and now co-edits, the Palgrave Macmillan book series The Theories, Concepts and Practices of Democracy (both with Mark Chou from the Australian Catholic University).

Gagnon’s research into democracy is driven by three programs. The first is an ongoing empirical effort to catalog democracy’s adjectives – so far 1,217 have been found in the English literature – and to inquire about what knowing these adjectives may come to mean or be used for. The second is to continue contributing to the theory of non-human democracy by trying to draw lessons for human democracies from the practices of non-human others (e.g. how do different non-human species solve collective action problems and what, from this, resonates with the theory or practice of democracy today?). The third is to contribute to globalising the history of democracy from a democratic theory perspective which interacts with what John Keane, Benjamin Isakhan, Yves Schemeil, Steve Muhlberger and Phil Paine, and Martin Bernal, among others, have been doing. 

His recent publications and interests span democracy's many histories (forgotten democracies, narrative, comparison, discourse analysis, epistemology, is democracy even human?), finding ways forward among a number of problems or puzzles that democracies presently face (democracies across dialogues; democracy education / civics and young people, democracy apps, critical and normative arguments, political reform), and critically theorizing the futures of democracy – those ‘democracies to come’ (Isaiah Berlin, fiction, posthumanism, futurism, normative arguments, Anthropocene / Holocene democracy).

Please contact for:
- Research collaboration
- PhD, Master's, Honour's supervision
- Advocacy

To view Jean-paul's The Conversation profile, please click here.

Media Engagements



Selected Publications:

  • Mark Chou, J-P Gagnon, Catherine Hartung & Lesley Pruitt. Forthcoming, March 2017. Young People, Citizenship and Political Participation: Combating Civic Deficit? London: Rowman & Littlefield International.**  
  • Gagnon, J-P and George Vasilev. 2016. ‘Opportunity in the Crisis of Democracy’ [Editorial]. Democratic Theory, 3 (1): 1-5.*
  • Wolfgang Merkel and J-P Gagnon. 2016. ‘Democracies and their Crises Reconsidered’ [Interview]. Democratic Theory, 3 (1): 91-109.*
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2016. ‘What animal could a democracy be? Ape, fox, lion … how about jellyfish?’ The Conversation. July 23.
  • Gagnon, J-P, David Carter, and Fanny Thornton. 2016. ‘How Uber opens cities only to close them’. The Conversation. July 5. Republished by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, New Zealand Herald.
  • Mark Chou, J-P Gagnon and Lesley Pruitt. 2015. ‘Putting participation on stage: examining participatory theatre as an alternative site for political participation’. Policy Studies, 36 (6): 607-622.**
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2015. ‘Building a Gramsci-Foucault Axis of Democracy’. In David Kreps (ed) Gramsci and Foucault: A Reassessment. Farnham: Ashgate. Pp. 75-90.**
  • Stephen Elstub and J-P Gagnon. 2015. ‘A Genealogy of Deliberative Democracy’ [Interview]. Democratic Theory, 2 (1): 100-117.*
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2015. ‘Non-human Democracy: putting inspirations, lessons and analogies to work’. The Conversation. December 24.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2015. ‘Non-human Democracy: in the Anthropocene, it cannot all be about us’. The Conversation. December 23.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2015. ‘Non-human Democracy: our political vocabulary has no room for animals’. The Conversation. December 22.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2015. ‘A Lesson in Democracy…from slime moulds’. Crick Centre Blog. November 19. See, also, the interview ‘Slimey politics: Can democracy be saved by slime mould?’ with the ABC’s Phillip Adams on Late Night Live and Kathleen Calderwood’s subsequent reportage ‘What slime moulds can teach us about politics’.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2015. ‘TPP revealed: at last we have the details – and a democratic deficit to be fixed’. The Conversation. November 9.
  • Mark Chou, Catherine Hartung, and J-P Gagnon. 2015. ‘Shorten’s plan to lower the voting age could help increase political engagement’. The Conversation. November 2.
  • Gagnon, J-P, Anthea McCarthy-Jones, and Mark Chou. 2015. ‘Kicking Pacifism: Japan’s pivot to militarism defies popular will’. The Conversation. October 6.
  • Gagnon, J-P, Mark Chou and Octavia Bryant. 2015. ‘Democracy needs heroes to champion the cause’. The Conversation. July 27.
  • Gagnon, J-P. Democratic Theorists in Conversation: Turns in Contemporary Thought. London: Palgrave Macmillan.**
  • Selen Ercan and J-P Gagnon. 2014. ‘The Crisis of Democracy: Which Crisis? Which Democracy?’ Democratic Theory, 1 (2): 1-10.*
  • Robyn Eckersley and J-P Gagnon. 2014. ‘Representing Nature and Contemporary Democracy’ [Interview]. Democratic Theory, 1 (1): 94-108.*
  • Gagnon, J-P and Mark Chou. 2014. ‘Why Democratic Theory?’ Democratic Theory, 1 (1): 1-8.*
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2014. ‘Human Enhancement Technologies and Democratic Citizenship’. In Steven J Thompson (ed) Global Issues and Ethical Considerations in Human Enhancement Technologies. Hershey: IGI Global. Pp. 176-190.**
  • Gagnon, J-P, Mark Chou, Selen Ercan and Giovanni Navarria. 2014. ‘Democratic Theories Database’. Working Paper #1, Australian Catholic University Research Node in the Sydney Democracy Network.
  • Selen Ercan and J-P Gagnon. 2014. ‘When is Crisis Good for Democracy?’ Crick Centre Blog. September 4.
  • Mark Chou, J-P Gagnon and Nicholas Osbaldiston. 2014. ‘The sessional trap’. Campus Review. November 4.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2014. ‘If we could talk to the animals, what might they tell us about politics?’ The Conversation. November 3.
  • Gagnon, J-P and Mark Chou. 2014. ‘Bringing the free market down to earth is a moral question’. The Conversation. October 1.
  • Gagnon, J-P and Mark Chou. 2014. ‘The ‘will of the people’? It’s the bastardisation of democracy’. The Conversation. September 8.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2014. ‘Bold spiders ensure a bright future for the whole colony’. The Conversation. June 9.
  • Gagnon, J-P and Mark Chou. 2014. ‘Don’t like the budget? Your options aren’t limited to voting’. Independent Australia. May 30.
  • Gagnon, J-P, Mark Chou and Tezcan Gumus. 2014. ‘Push to curb activists may add to sweatshop workers’ struggle’. The Conversation. April 30.
  • Gagnon, J-P, Mark Chou and Tezcan Gumus. 2014. ‘Women keep democracy’s heart beating in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe’. The Conversation. April 4.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2013. Evolutionary Basic Democracy: A Critical Overture. London: Palgrave Macmillan.**
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2013. ‘Change tax tack to take power back’. Eureka Street. November 17.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2013. ‘Institutionalizing agonistic democracy: Post foundationalism and political liberalism [Book Review]’. Melbourne Journal of Politics, 36: 74-75.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2013. ‘Development by synergising renewable energy with social services’. International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development, 7 (4): 356-366.**
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2012. ‘The Taliban Didn’t Create the Taliban, Imperialism Did’. Journal of South Asian Development, 7 (1): 23-42.**
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2012. ‘Huron Socialism’. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 8 (2): 115-127.**
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2012. ‘Post-Colonial Public Law: Are Current Legal Establishments Democratically Illegitimate?’ African Journal of Legal Studies, 5 (1): 21-43.**
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2012. ‘An Intervention on ‘Democracy’ as a Term in Empirical Political Analysis’. Public Administration and Policy, 15 (2): 68-92.**
  • Nick Osbaldiston and J-P Gagnon. 2012. ‘Adventures in dumbocracy: where are the experts on Q&A?’ The Conversation. September 24.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2012. ‘Come together: the Olympics and Paralympics should unite’. The Conversation. September 11.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2012. ‘The Olympic closing ceremony celebrates the myth of nations’. The Conversation. August 13.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2012. ‘The Olympics are Illegitimate: a call for democracy in sport’. The Conversation. August 2.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2012. ‘Musgrave Park and ‘the embassy in my own land’. The Conversation. May 17.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2012. ‘Treasurer or Member for Lilley? Perhaps Wayne Swan doesn’t have to be both’. The Conversation. May 8.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2012. ‘Sorry Clive Palmer, Wayne Swan’s vision is better for Australia’. The Conversation. March 5.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2012. ‘If our underwhelming politicians don’t pass the test, perhaps it’s time to make them sit one’. The Conversation. February 16.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2012. ‘A right royal rip-off – how much should Commonwealth nations pay for the Queen’s Jubilee?’ The Conversation. February 7.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2011. ‘Establishing Indigeneity in African Pluralities using PRO169 Parameters and a Case Study for Measuring their Inclusivity’. African and Asian Studies, 10 (4): 323-346.**
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2011. ‘A Potential Demarcation between “old” and “new” democratic theory? An attempt at positioning a segment of the extant literature’. Social Alternatives, 30 (3): 5-9.**
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2011. ‘Book review of: Marquand, David. The End of the West: The Once and Future of Europe (2011)’. Social Alternatives, 30 (3): 42-43.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2011. ‘As Berlusconi exits, is democratic reform the next real step for Europe?’ The Conversation. November 9.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2011. ‘Nation-state or country-state: how do we discuss belonging in an age of fluidity?’ openDemocracy. 12 April.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2011. ‘Gaddafi and Libya – a case for just intervention?’ openDemocracy. April 1.
  • Gagnon, J-P. 2010. ‘Democratic Theory and Theoretical Physics’. Taiwan Journal of Democracy, 6 (2): 1-22.**


Research Projects & Grants
PhD Supervision 

Areas of Supervision

  • Democratic theory
  • Nonhuman democracy
  • Democracy studies
  • Histories of democracy
  • Futures of democracy
  • Economic democracy / democratic economy
  • Global democracy

Involvement in PhD Supvisory Panels:

  • Melanie Glavimans, "Fortune-telling and Psychic Healing in our everyday lives: A phenomenological exploration of psychics and individuals consulting them in Australia" (Primary Supervisor)
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