Post-structuralism, Civil Society and Radical Democracy

James Martin

in The Politics of Radical Democracy

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780748633999
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652723 | DOI:
Post-structuralism, Civil Society and Radical Democracy

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This chapter focuses on the theme of civil society. Much has been written about civil society in recent years, particularly within the critical theory or deliberative traditions of radical democracy. According to the chapter, however, such accounts misunderstand the peculiarly spatial character of the political and, as such, the nature of civil society. That spatiality, encapsulated in the idea of ‘perverse duplicity’, is better represented by Laclau's notion of ‘dislocation’. This allows for an apprehension of civil society as a democratic domain, but one characterised by hegemonic struggles for power and, thus, by antagonism. The chapter argues that what is needed, therefore, is a re-politicisation of conflict based on ‘a politics of civility’; the goal of which is not to resolve difference but to develop strategies aimed at converting antagonism to agonism.

Keywords: agonism; civil society; critical theory; antagonism; power struggle

Chapter.  7814 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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