Juman Kim

Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science

Dissertation Title: On Frustration: An Inquiry into Democratic Perseverance

Committee: Anne Norton, Jeffrey Green, Rogers Smith

Dissertation Summary: My dissertation project, On Frustration: An Inquiry into Democratic Perseverance, examines democratic frustration as a defining experience of ordinary citizens. Democracy often nurtures lofty ideals and promises that it cannot fully realize and deliver, thereby making frustration its permanent condition. Surprisingly, however, contemporary democratic theory has failed to properly attend to the question of democratic frustration by devoting much attention either to analyzing idealistic arrangements of democracy or to describing the dispiriting reality of democratic politics. A twofold lurking danger in such endeavors is escapism--utopian and cynical. My study explores how ordinary citizens should properly understand and cultivate their democratic aspirations as being the source of both inspiration and frustration, and how a more robust citizenship can take shape in three distinct dimensions of democracy--communicative (citizen-partisan), symbolic (citizen-sovereign), and temporal (citizen-becoming). I argue for a democratic pathos of magnanimity, the sublime democratic people, and a democratic time of convalescence and growth, respectively, as means through which democratic citizens can keep their aspirations alive and at once grow more attached to reality, more attentive, inventive, and persevering while living and coming to terms with their frustration. 

University of Pennsylvania
The Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics
133 S. 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6215
Phone: (215) 898-7641

Nicholas Sambanis Chair
Alex Weisiger Graduate Chair
Daniel Hopkins Undergraduate Chair