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Garrido, Marco. “Disciplining Democracy: How the Upper and Middle Class in Manila Envision Democratic Order.” Qualitative Sociology 44 (2021): 419–435.


I describe how the upper and middle class in Metro Manila see the democratic state and how they imagine reforming it. I argue that they are not turning away from democracy towards authoritarianism but, rather, seeking to “discipline” democracy. The notion of discipline connects an experience of democracy as disorder with support for “strong” or quasi-autocratic leaders. I develop it with respect to the following observations: (1) The disciplinary state is largely inspired by examples set by the Philippine state itself operating at the subnational level and by states elsewhere. These “pockets of discipline” effectively function as heterotopias in Foucault’s sense. (2) Informants look to “strong’ leaders” to cultivate discipline in a population. (3) The exercise of discipline is a performance aimed at an unruly public. (4) The idea of discipline is rooted in upper- and middle-class social position. And finally, (5) as informants see it, the disciplinary state is not necessarily an undemocratic one. By unpacking the notion of discipline, we are better able to understand why the Philippine upper classes largely supported presidential strongman Rodrigo Duterte and why they continue to support him despite the illiberal character of his administration. The notion may also provide insight into democratic disenchantment elsewhere in the Global South.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.