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Processes of Social Change in the Works of Badiou and Laclau

Kim, Min Seong (2018) Processes of Social Change in the Works of Badiou and Laclau. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

No theory of social change can circumvent the task of specifying the process that transforms the existent order into a different order, and determining that which accounts for the difference between those two orders. This thesis examines whether the theories of social change found in the works of Alain Badiou and Ernesto Laclau succeed in fulfilling this task. Badiou contends that a political process transforms the situation in which it unfolds in so far as what it produces is a ‘truth’. Certain implications of the set-theoretical ontological discourse through which Badiou conceptualizes truths, however, prevents an unambiguous appraisal of their socially transformative character. Although Badiou stipulates that the transformative potential of a truth lies in its ‘generic’ universality, this universality becomes indistinguishable from particularity when its transformative effects are limited to a situation—but it is precisely the interplay between situations, in the plural, that is not adequately reflected in set-theoretical ontology. Whilst Laclau’s theory of hegemony can be interpreted as providing an account of this interplay between pluralities of situations, it has its own shortcoming: the transition between different social orders cannot be thought under hegemony theory as anything other than a transition wherein the to-come is conditioned by the present to an extent that is theoretically underdetermined, resulting in the blurring of the distinction between social transformation and social reproduction. The final part of this thesis explores the possibility of bringing together the Laclauian notion of the ‘simplification’ of the social space through hegemonic articulation and Badiou’s theorization of truth procedure, in an attempt to conceive the particular kind of situation in which a political process would potentially have far-reaching socially transformative consequences.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
Depositing User: Min Kim
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2018 12:42
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2018 12:42
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/23439

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