Introduction. The history of sortition in politics: Instruments, practices, and theories

By Liliane López-Rabatel, Yves Sintomer

Interest in sortition in the academic sphere has developed separately in political science and in the historical sciences. The introduction of the special issue of Participations analyzes its genealogy and draws the lessons of an encounter between these two fields. Focusing on political sortition, it explains the constitution of a specific set of practices, which are part of the distributive sortition and are distinct from divinatory sortition. It stresses three results: the intensive use of random selection in political history, including outside Western democracies and republics; the importance of the tools necessary for sortition practices; and the fact that the same procedure, according to the contexts, can serve quite contrasted sociopolitical dynamics. Finally, it reflects upon the present growing popularity of random selection in the political sphere.


  • sortition
  • sortition and Divination
  • distributive sortition
  • kleroterion
  • tools of random sortition
  • democracy
  • Thomas Aquinas
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