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Democracy and Agonism in the Anthropocene: The Challenges of Knowledge, Time and Boundary

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The diagnosis of a new geological epoch, The 'Anthropocene', has implications far beyond geological science. If human activity has disrupted the planet, then this diagnosis potentially disrupts socio-political conventions. This article assesses the implications the Anthropocene has for democratic politics, by delineating three challenges: challenges of knowledge, time and boundary. In contrast to the claim that democratic institutions are unable to adequately respond to these challenges, I suggest that they might be strengthened through an engagement with them. Following an 'agonistic' understanding of politics, I argue that the contestation instigated by the challenges of the Anthropocene is key to democratic renewal. Just as democracy in the Anthropocene can be enhanced through an agonistic approach, agonistic theory can be enriched through an engagement with the Anthropocene.
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Keywords: Anthropocene; agonism; democracy; environmental politics; science

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2019) of 2.158. 5 Year Impact Factor: 2.047.
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