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The Costs of the Democratic Turn in Political Theory

Azmanova, Albena (2020) The Costs of the Democratic Turn in Political Theory. In: Martill, Benjamin and Schindler, Sebastian, eds. Theory as Ideology in International Relations: The Politics of Knowledge. Worlding Beyond the West . Routledge. ISBN 978-0-367-07494-4. E-ISBN 978-0-429-02100-8. (doi:10.4324/9780429021008-8) (KAR id:70925)

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The article explores the ‘democratic turn’ in political theory and the nascent ideological status of the concept of democracy in academic inquiry. The object of its scrutiny are those mechanisms intrinsic to theorising through which democratic theory might undertake an ideological function. As a test case, the inquiry examines the effect of the democratic turn Jürgen Habermas has undertaken in critical social theory of Frankfurt School origin. The original commitment of Critical Theory to emancipation from injustices afflicting capitalist democracies was pursued through a critique of ideology as part of the larger critique of the dynamics of capitalism. The critical enterprise was marked by suspicions, inherited from Marx, of the complicity of liberal democracy in capitalism's delictum. This allowed the pursuit of radical social change beyond the conditions for democratic citizenship. Tracing the deepening of the democratic turn in Habermas’s analyses of modern society, I note a transition from a critique of ideology to ideology-construction – a move in which the institutions of democratic citizenship become reified and overburdened with a task they are not equipped to perform – that of radical social transformation. Performed in this way, the democratic turn dampens critical theory’s emancipatory potency.

Item Type: Book section
DOI/Identification number: 10.4324/9780429021008-8
Uncontrolled keywords: critical theory, Habermas, democracy, critique of ideology, capitalism
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Albena Azmanova
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2018 21:57 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 01:13 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Azmanova, Albena:
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