Community at Loose Ends was first published in 1991. In the face of urgent contemporary appeal for a new sense of community, discussions in the West are marked by a demonstrable paucity of fresh ways to theorize the issue. Taking their cue from all-but-universal use of the term “community” as an unquestioned value, the contributors to Community at Loose Ends rethink what is meant by community when both the New Left and the New Right claim for themselves the enthusiastic appeal the notion still garners. This volume takes as its point of departure the issues discussed in Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s Hegemony and Socialist Strategy and Jean-Luc Nancy’s The Inoperative Community. These issues include subjectivity, history, the significance of literature, and the constitution of political action. The volume explores “community” as a concept whose presupposition of an immanent unity is challenged by the poststructuralist respect for difference and the demands of a host of social movements (feminism, gay and lesbian rights, ecological activism, and civil rights). Any revitalized notion of community will therefore have to be articulated with these and other political realities and ethical demands that require not only collective involvement but also a fundamental rethinking of what it means to “be together.”
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