People’s practices have variable possibilities, democratic as well as nondemocratic. They draw their energies and orientations from the social imaginaries and institutional arrangements within which they are embedded at a given historical juncture. One might, following Charles Taylor, define “cultures of democracy” as a regional subset of the larger social imaginary, the enabling but not fully explicable symbolic matrix within which a people imagine and act as world-making collective agents. This regional imaginary is further marked by the primacy of the “political” in a people’s engagement with the world. In our times, not abruptly but following an enduring historical trajectory, a people’s mode of being political is imagined and constituted primarily within a democratic idiom. Nowhere is this more evident than in the unshakable link forged since the onset of modernity between the idea of democracy and the doctrine of popular sovereignty. Therefore, the boundaries of the political, always under contestation but not always identical with the democratic, are expressed in and through the practices of the people. The stress on “practices” is deliberate because they are, aside from their pragmatic and phenomenological valence, inscribed with (as in a habitus) and articulate (as with symbolic forms) a people’s collective values, sentiments, and understandings (as with theories). In short, a people’s practices might be regarded as an indispensable hermeneutic key to deciphering their political imaginary.
- Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, "On Cultures of Democracy" in Public Culture 19 (1).
(Note - I am okay moving from talking about "politics" to talking about "the political (as such)"... but I am not sure about the definite article in "the democratic.")