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.