Mark Bevir and R. A. W. Rhodes

in The State as Cultural Practice

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199580750
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723179 | DOI:

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This chapter explores what many observers suggest are the leading present-day forms of interpretive social science: postmodern theories of discourse. First, we challenge the belief these approaches have a shared paradigm stemming from anti-foundational philosophy. Instead, we suggest that anti-foundationalism is compatible with all kinds of approaches to political science, and these approaches arose out of distinctive socialist or radical traditions, not mainstream political science. Second, we argue that much post-Marxist discourse theory still relies on structuralist and occasionally even determinist forms of explanation associated with modernist-empiricism. There is a clear tension between this lingering structuralism and historicist genealogies. Third, we suggest that discourse introduces several new topics to the theory of the state. These topics include governmentality, collective identities, ideologies, and resistance in governance.

Keywords: postmodernism; anti-foundationalism; discourse theory; structuralism; post-Marxism; governmentality

Chapter.  7956 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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