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Ernesto Laclau on Unity - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 273
Unity/Laclau/Mouffe/West: There is no predetermined logic of revolutionary transformation such as to place either the working class or even new social movements at the heart of political struggle: 'There is no unique privileged position from which a uniform continuity of effects will follow, concluding with the transformation of society as a whole' (1985(1): 169).
Neither particular social interests nor possible alliances between them are given in advance, in the way Marxist and other 'essentialist' theories have assumed.
Representation: Laclau and Mouffe reject any notion of 'representation' that posits pre-existing interests. Rather, both the unity that constitutes a particular social interest (or 'subject position and any possible alliance between interests are the contingent and unpredictable results of 'articulation', which refers to 'any practice establishing a relation among elements such that their identity is modified as a result of the articulatory practice' (1985(1): 105). Unity is never 'the expression of a common underlying essence but the result of political construction and struggle' (1985(1): 65).


1. Laclau, Ernesto and Chantal Mouffe (1985) Hegemony and Socialist Strategv: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics. London: Verso.


West, David 2004. „New Social Movements“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Laclau, Ernesto
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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