Together Under the Open Sky
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Democratic theory

How to Cite

Together Under the Open Sky: Rousseau on the Value of Entertainment. (2019). The Political Science Reviewer, 43(1), 107-136.


What is the role of entertainment in contemporary democratic society? While Rousseau is not himself a democrat, his insights into the value of entertainment are valuable for those dealing with the question in democratic theory. Rousseau finds that entertainment can shape politics, but there is a need to differentiate between healthy and corrupt forms of entertainment. Focusing on his Letter to M. D’Alembert on Spectaclesand Considerations on Poland, we detail Rousseau’s distinction between good and bad entertainments. For Rousseau, bad entertainments are frivolous, they isolate people, impose an economic burden, and degrade public morals. Good entertainments are honest and simple, communal, inspire virtue, and foster patriotism. By making this distinction, we can begin to think more critically about cultivating good entertainments and reassess the role of entertainment in democratic life.

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