The Political Thought of Jacques Rancière

The Political Thought of Jacques Rancière: Creating Equality

Todd May
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    The Political Thought of Jacques Rancière
    Book Description:

    Equality is not something that we must expect from state institutions. It is something that we must both presuppose and create through collective action. Todd May investigates in depth the philosophical grounds, ethical implications and practical consequences of the view of active equality. Much more than a commentary, his book is a powerful analysis of what politics means and how we can recover the project of political action.Jacques RanciereThis is the first single-authored book in any language devoted entirely to the thought of Jacques Rancière. It focuses on his central political idea that a democratic politics emerges from the presupposition of equality. Todd May examines and extends this presupposition, offering a framework for understanding it, placing it in the current political context, and showing how it challenges traditional political philosophy and opens up neglected political paths.May aims to show that Rancière's view offers both hope and perspective for those who seek to think about and engage in progressive political action.Key Features* offers a thorough discussion of Rancière's concept of equality* provides an ethical framework in which to ground his politics* shows why Rancière is crucial for political reflection today* both translated and untranslated works are referred to

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-3533-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Passive Equality
    (pp. 1-37)

    Ours is an age of political passivity. Not everywhere, nor among everyone. But in the United States, and among most of us. We are not utterly passive. After all, many (although not most) of us vote. We hold political opinions. We have expectations of our government. But we do not engage in political action. We do not organize; we neither create nor engage in political collectivities. We partake in politics as we do in sports, as fans rather than participants, and at times with rather less enthusiasm.

    Why is this?

    There are many reasons. The United States in particular is...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Active Equality: Democratic Politics
    (pp. 38-77)

    In the early morning of May 12, 2001, a young African American, Kashef White, was hit by a car and killed in my home town of Clemson, South Carolina. A white male student at Clemson University was the car’s driver. There are very few facts about what happened that night that are not in dispute. Witnesses at the scene, which was outside a small club, said that the Kashef had one foot on the sidewalk and one in the street; the driver veered toward the curb and hit Kashef, unintentionally but negligently. The driver and the police said that Kashef...

  6. CHAPTER 3 The Historical Roots of Democratic Politics: Anarchism
    (pp. 78-101)

    The democratic politics proposed by Rancière contrasts sharply with mainstream political thought. It turns its sights away from the part that has a part – the part with access to something to distribute – and toward that part that has no part. Instead of asking what is owed to the demos, it asks what the demos is capable of. The addressee of democratic politics is the people (in its various guises) in its capacity as actor. This chapter asks two historical questions: How should we situate democratic politics? Into what theoretical tradition does it fall?

    We must first recognize that...

  7. CHAPTER 4 The Normative Framework of Democratic Politics
    (pp. 102-141)

    Among the various conflicts between the left and the right, one issue seems never in dispute: the right gets morality. The right claims it; the left cedes it. In the U.S., the term moral values, closely aligned with its subsidiary family values, figures prominently in conservative discourse. Conservatives see a certain decline in the U.S. that stems from its disengagement with morality and moral values, and seek a return to them in order to stem that decline. The left, broadly defined, often takes issue with the specific values endorsed by this discourse – opposition to equal rights for gays and...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Active Equality in Contemporary Politics
    (pp. 142-188)

    The discourse of democratic politics is addressed to people who are politically dispossessed, that is to say, us. Not to all of us, perhaps. There may be those who read these words that have no need of or interest in a democratic politics, those for whom inequalities tilt largely in their favor. And, of course, at the other end of things, there will be many who do not have access to books like these. They have been deprived of the means – the money, the education, the time – to grapple with the reflections we are considering here. Although spoken...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 189-194)
  10. Index
    (pp. 195-200)