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The Lessons of Rancière

Samuel A. Chambers

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199927210
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980529 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199927210.001.0001
The Lessons of Rancière

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“Liberal democracy” is the name given to a regime that much of the world lives in or aspires to, and both liberal and deliberative theorists focus much of their intellectual energy on working to reshape and perfect this regime. But what if “liberal democracy” were a contradiction in terms? Taking up Jacques Rancière’s polemical claim that democracy is not a regime, Samuel Chambers argues that liberalism and democracy are not complements, but competing forces. By way of the most in-depth and rigorous treatment of Rancière’s writings to date, this book seeks to disentangle democracy from liberalism. Liberalism is a logic of order and hierarchy, of the proper distribution of responsibilities and rights, whereas democratic politics follows a logic of disordering that challenges and disrupts any claims that the allocation of roles could be complete. This book resists the tendency to collapse democracy into the broader terms of liberalism, by defending a vision of “impure” politics. chambers shows that there is no sphere proper to politics, no protected political domain. The job of political theory is therefore not to say what is required in order for politics to occur, not to develop ideal “normative” models of politics, and not even to create new political ontologies. Instead, political theory is itself an enactment of politics in Rancière’s sense of dissensus: politics thwarts any social order of domination. The book explores the possibility of a critical theory beyond unmasking and a democratic politics beyond liberalism.

Keywords: Rancière; democratic politics; critical theory; liberalism

Book.  256 pages. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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Table of Contents

Introduction in The Lessons of Rancière

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Politics in The Lessons of Rancière

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Police in The Lessons of Rancière

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Literarity in The Lessons of Rancière

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Critique in The Lessons of Rancière

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Afterword in The Lessons of Rancière

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