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Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe: The Evolution of Post-marxism

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In their groundbreaking Hegemony and socialist strategy (1985), Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe develop a new account of radical politics in which the subjective construction of hegemony establishes political conditions, not the objective historical stages and class contexts of traditional Hegelian Marxism. On this basis, they forcefully justify the 'identity politics' of contemporary women's, African-American, gay, and working class groups and organisations and oppose both the hegemony of the new right and the 'classism' and revolutionary orientation of the radical left. In their later work, they elaborate their accounts of hegemony and move in new directions. In On populist reason (2005) and The rhetorical foundations of society (2014), Laclau draws on poststructuralist discourse or rhetoric as well as notions of populism or the masses to show that hegemony involves what he terms antagonism, frontiers or we/they oppositions, equivalential logics, and other elements. By contrast, in On the political (2005) and Agonistics: thinking the world politically (with Wagner, 2013), Mouffe elaborates the notion of the fissured subject which, as she and Laclau argued in Hegemony, was constituted by the antagonisms of diverse social movements or the dislocation of social structures; however, her new accounts of the antagonisms or, as she says, 'agonisms' dividing the political field forcefully oppose universal norms of rationality or democracy in order to establish a genuine pluralism on a national and a global scale.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 2019

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  • Global Discourse is an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented journal of applied contemporary thought operating at the intersection of politics, international relations, sociology and social policy. The Journal's scope is broad, encouraging interrogation of current affairs with regard to core questions of distributive justice, wellbeing, cultural diversity, autonomy, sovereignty, security and recognition. All issues are themed and aimed at addressing pressing issues as they emerge. Rejecting the notion that publication is the final stage in the research process, Global Discourse seeks to foster discussion and debate between often artificially isolated disciplines and paradigms, with responses to articles encouraged and conversations continued across issues.

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    All research articles in this journal have undergone rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening and double-blind peer review. All submissions must be in response to a specific call for papers.

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