Giving talk at Spelman Feb. 12, 2014 on Social Movements and Deliberative Publics

This Wednesday, February 12 at 3 p.m., I’m giving a talk at Spelman College as part of the SOPHIA (Series on Political Philosophy in Atlanta) talks.  

“Social Movements and Deliberative Publics: Countering Neoliberalism’s Anti-Politics”

Reconceptualizing the relationship between the social (e.g. new social movements) and the political (namely, deliberative publics) provides a way to counter neoliberalism’s anti-politics. I start this paper by explaining the problem of political elites deferring to market mechanisms rather than engaging in political thinking, deliberating, and judging other ways to address problems. Then I describe the present tension between (i) new social movements that also seem to shun politics (i.e., the politics of deliberative choice) in favor of protests and demands and (ii) deliberative publics, from informal citizen deliberations to formal legislative ones. I argue, following Iris Marion Young, that this tension between “the activist” and “the deliberative democrat” is not oppositional but rather is productive. This is best understood by conceptualizing the various moments in a larger political process, which includes the steps of naming and framing public issues as well as deliberation and choice.  This brings to light the need for more formal entry points for citizen public deliberation into the political process as well as the importance that social movements play in challenging the status quo and showing what is being marginalized and needs to be addressed. Finally, I show how the challenge is especially pressing as neoliberalism goes global.

 

By Noelle McAfee

I am professor of philosophy at Emory University and editor of the Kettering Review. My latest book, Fear of Breakdown: Politics and Psychoanalysis, explores what is behind the upsurge of virulent nationalism and intransigent politics across the world today. My other writings include Democracy and the Political Unconscious; Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship; Julia Kristeva; and numerous articles and book chapters. Edited volumes include Standing with the Public: the Humanities and Democratic Practice and a special issue of the philosophy journal Hypatia on feminist engagements in democratic theory. I am also the author of the entry on feminist political philosophy in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and well into my next book project on democratic public life.

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