Urban social movements present themselves as an answer to de3 ciencies of local politics. In this way, they situate themselves in agreement with popular diagnoses of crisis of democracy, and propose their own model of involvement in politics. However, is this model a chance for renewal of democracy, or is it just another version of politics understood as an enlightened management? Does it have the potential for broadening the political, or does it stop halfway? Presented article is an attempt in rethinking those questions. First part compares different political languages, in which critiques of contemporary democracy are formulated. Subsequently, Jacques Rancière’s conception is presented, as emphasising egalitarian and emancipatory dimensions of democracy. Examples of rhetorics and actions of urban social movements are considered in this double context of different political languages and radical character of democracy. The problem of ‘deficient political articulation’, which makes urban social movements unable to fully keep the promises they make, is stressed.