In this paper, I bring Ernesto Laclau's post-Marxist approach into conversation with the analytical thinker Philip Pettit, who has developed an influential neo-republican conception of freedom as 'non-domination'. Both thinkers aim to reconfigure power and domination towards more democratic
and egalitarian relations and I evaluate the political implications of their respective conceptions of domination/non-domination, emancipation and freedom. I show that despite these common points of reference, the two authors exhibit considerable differences which manifest in their respective
conceptions of structure and agency. In the opening section, I compare Laclau's and Pettit's respective conceptions of 'domination' where I highlight the differences between them in two alternate readings of Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House. In the second section, I examine their
respective understandings of 'emancipation' and 'freedom', and I demonstrate that Pettit does not model his conception of freedom as non-domination on the idea of emancipation. This stands in contrast to Laclau, for whom emancipation remains the focal point of political struggle, despite formal
equality, and who maintains the idea of the possibility of a more radical transformation in the underlying structures of society. In the final section, I consider Laclau's and Pettit's alternative conceptions of politics where both thinkers place a premium on democratic contest in challenging
and overturning arbitrary power. I show that for Pettit political freedom is a mode of contestability within the established institutions, while Laclau's notions of emancipation and freedom functions at the level of competing hegemonic projects, and this facilitates a form of political struggle
that might transcend the existing regime to instantiate a new institutional order. I conclude by amalgamating the respective strengths of both thinkers to provide a multi-layered analysis of contemporary forms of domination to better aid our understanding about the kinds of struggle needed
to contest them.
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LACLAU AND MOUFFE;
Document Type: Research Article
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