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The Dimension of Coercion in Chantal Mouffe's Theory of Agonism: Theoretical Reflections and Empirical Applications to Local Politics in the UK

Tapiheru, Joash Elisha Stephen (2021) The Dimension of Coercion in Chantal Mouffe's Theory of Agonism: Theoretical Reflections and Empirical Applications to Local Politics in the UK. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

Based on the premise that hegemonic practices involve a constant dialectic between consent and coercion, this dissertation explores the specific role and nature coercion in Chantal Mouffe’s theory of agonistic politics and its subjective presuppositions. It concludes that coercion is a ubiquitous and constitutive aspect of agonistic politics and pluralism. Focusing on Mouffe’s agonism and endeavours to apply this approach in empirical analysis, the thesis explicates its underlying ‘Ethics of the Real’ and elaborates a methodology centred on Poststructuralist Discourse Theory’s (PDT) ‘ontology of the lack’. Both concepts centred on the recognition of the ineradicability and constitutive role of ‘lack’ in the constitution of social reality and subjectivity. Furthering Mouffe’s framework and its underlying ontological assumptions (PDT), the elaboration on the nature and role of coercion in this dissertation adds and foregrounds the fantasmatic dimension. This dimension marks the ‘lack’ that inevitably permeates the agonistic structure while, simultaneously, provides support for its cohesiveness. This is especially evident in forms of identification. The analysis thus starts by interrogating Mouffe’s theory of agonism and then elaborates the way that agonistic pluralism works through the fundamental mechanism of stabilization, which renders the latter constantly vulnerable to transformations of ‘relations of subordination’ into ‘relations of oppression’. The latter is contingent on the dynamics of the fantasmatic dimension of social relations and the agent’s identification with the structure. Such theoretical points are further developed through an empirical analysis of the case of collaborative planning and partnerships in North Ayrshire, Scotland. This urban regime is taken as an exemplary case, which has been acknowledged as exhibiting ‘best-practice’ in terms of implementation of collaborative governance. The research contributes to a deeper understanding of the role and nature of coercion, while addressing some criticisms levelled at Mouffe’s political theory and developing elements in need of further elaboration. Keywords: coercion, agonism/agonistic-pluralism, Chantal Mouffe, fantasmatic dimension, logics of critical explanation

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
Depositing User: Joash Tapiheru
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2021 15:16
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2021 15:16
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/29652

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