Abstract: A grounded approach to normative theorizing is not new. Indeed, it has been used in some of the most influential works of classical and contemporary political thought. For instance, Jane Mansbridge conducted extensive field work to inform her theorizing of democratic practice in her influential monograph, Beyond Adversary Democracy. However, grounded normative theorizing (GNT) has rarely been treated as a cohesive approach to doing political theory, and has received relatively little attention in the literature as an approach. This proposal is for a roundtable on the methodologies of GNT and is part of a series of proposed roundtables.
GNT is problem-driven, focusing on normative challenges that are raised by and in political contestation. It identifies, employs, and/or develops empirical data that diversifies, broadens, and deepens the range of actors and ideas that should bear on normative arguments. It incorporates empirical data into normative theorizing in a fundamentally recursive process, in which claims are revised through direct engagement with that data. It attends to the power of epistemology that obscures and silences the voices that should count and ideas that should be heard at sites of contestation and in struggles for justice.