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Deliberative Agonism and Agonistic Deliberation in Hannah Arendt

Giuseppe Ballacci

are only two sides of the same effort to endow the world with meaning ( Lederman 2014: 333–335 ). Lederman is right, I think, to reject the dichotomical reading of Arendt according to the division agonism/deliberation. But he is not alone in such

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On Mouffe's Agonism

Why It Is Not a Refutation of Consensus

George Vasilev

Chantal Mouffe's conceptualization of a deliberatively forged consensus as a hegemony and her assertion that adversarial politics best nurtures the conditions of freedom have had a profound influence on contemporary democratic thought. This article takes a critical view of this trend, arguing that a norm of consensus is a very precondition, rather than impediment, for the kind of pluralistic democracy Mouffe and other agonists wish to promote. It is asserted that Mouffe's dehistoricized refutation of consensus lacks causal or explanatory relevance to how concrete actors embedded in empirical situations relate to one another and that the very preparedness to find something acceptable about another is at the heart of what it means to treat others justly.

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Agony and the Anthropos

Democracy and Boundaries in the Anthropocene

Amanda Machin

demos . The demos and the anthropos are in paradoxical tension. Third, I argue that this tension between anthropos and demos can be understood as a form of “political agony.” The approach of political agonism is useful here because it regards

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Pluralism, Slippery Slopes and Democratic Public Discourse

Maria Ferretti and Enzo Rossi

Agonist theorists have argued against deliberative democrats that democratic institutions should not seek to establish a rational consensus, but rather allow political disagreements to be expressed in an adversarial form. But democratic agonism is not antagonism: some restriction of the plurality of admissible expressions is not incompatible with a legitimate public sphere. However, is it generally possible to grant this distinction between antagonism and agonism without accepting normative standards in public discourse that saliently resemble those advocated by (some) deliberative democrats? In this paper we provide an analysis of one important aspect of political communication, the use of slippery-slope arguments, and show that the fact of pluralism weakens the agonists' case for contestation as a sufficient ingredient for appropriately democratic public discourse. We illustrate that contention by identifying two specific kinds of what we call pluralism slippery slopes, that is, mechanisms whereby pluralism reinforces the efficacy of slippery-slope arguments.

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What Can a Political Form of Reconciliation Look Like in Divided Societies?

The Deliberative “Right to Justification” and Agonistic Democracy

Burcu Özçelik

least, informed by ideas around representation, participation, and the pursuit of some form of consensus and follow the idea that decision-making should be the product of reasonable discussion among citizens. Agonism is a lesser explored strand of

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“I Am Trying” to Perform Like an Ideal Boy

The Construction of Boyhood through Corporal Punishment and Educational Discipline in Taare Zameen Par

Natasha Anand

systems of educational processes, instructional strategies, and an entire school culture. Finally, the relationship of confrontation with social forces reaches its climax through a kind of Foucauldian agonism—performed almost in the manner of a duel

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Putting Strangeness in Perspective

John Fletcher's The Island Princess

Anja Müller-Wood


I consider ‘strangeness’ as a performative phenomenon directly related to the experimental multiperspectivity of the early Stuart stage. As such, it is not a quality ascribed to individual characters, but the norm ruling interactions between them: all characters are strangers to each other. This constellation drives theatrical agon and suspense, turning spectators into privileged witnesses to an all-encompassing strangeness of which characters are often unaware. This theatrical take on strangeness supplements and potentially undercuts contextual and thematic explanations of the early modern stage's fascination with the odd and exotic. Thus in John Fletcher's The Island Princess (1621), the conflict between Christianity and Islam ostensibly depicted in this tragicomedy is challenged, if not superseded, by a more existential and ubiquitous notion of strangeness at the play's core.

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Jean-Paul Gagnon and Mark Chou

This general issue of Democratic Theory begins with an important contribution by George Vasilev (La Trobe University) that reflects on Chantal Mouffe’s notion of democratic agonism. Mouffe has, primarily as part of her critique of deliberative democracy, asserted that consensus necessarily creates exclusion. What is important is that democratic dialogue remains open-ended. For her this means that democrats should view themselves as adversaries rather than antagonists who bring discussions to a close. Vasilev critiques Mouffe’s assertion by arguing that she holds a one-sided understanding of consensus that creates a less credible form of adversarial politics. By crafting a “norm of consensus”, Vasilev thus demonstrates that consensus formation can ensure the very condition of democratic freedom itself. In doing this, Vasilev’s argument brings a fresh perspective to ongoing debates in deliberative and agonistic democracy.

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The Sovereign Awakened

A Radical Democratic View on Protest

Oliver Marchart

perhaps the most prominent representative of the paradigm, with the argument that the breaking of the rules of the game, in the sense of antagonism rather than agonism, may be an indispensable dimension of democratic protest. In such cases, and in

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Jean-Paul Gagnon and Emily Beausoleil

theory to offer new resources for understanding political reconciliation. Seen in this light, deliberation and agonism are not as at odds, as is often conceived. Rather, Özçelik argues, the deliberative “right to justification” and corollary duty to