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The Misguided Search for the Political


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vi

Introduction 1

1 Suffering and Social Weightlessness 28

2 The Unbearable Lightness of Theory: Mouffe's Dissociative Agonism 67

3 Freedom beyond the Subject: Feminism, Agency and Agonism 98

4 All or Nothing: Ranciere's Ruptural Agonism 132

5 Pluralism and Practice: The Existential Agonism of Connolly and Tully 168

Conclusion: Political Theory as Critique: Reconsidering the Negative 207

Notes 220

References 226

Index 241

About the Author

Lois McNay is Professor of the Theory of Politics and Tutor in Politics at Somerville College, University of Oxford.


"McNay offers an insightful and persuasive critique of the social weightlessness of contemporary theories of radical democracy and an impassioned plea for grounding democratic theory in an account power, domination, and embodied social suffering. The Misguided Search for the Political is a radical critique of radical democratic theory, and an important new work from a provocative and original critical theorist." Amy Allen, Professor of Philosophy and Women's and Gender Studies, Dartmouth College

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