1st Edition

Marcel Gauchet and the Crisis of Democratic Politics

Edited By Natalie J. Doyle, Sean McMorrow Copyright 2022
    294 Pages
    by Routledge

    294 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book presents, for the first time in the English language, Marcel Gauchet’s interpretation of the challenges faced by contemporary Western societies as a result of the crisis of liberal democratic politics and the growing influence of populism.

    Responding to Gauchet’s analysis, international experts explore the depoliticising aspects of contemporary democratic culture that explain the appeal of populism: neo-liberal individualism, the cult of the individual and its related human rights, and the juridification of all human relationships. The book also provides the intellectual context within which Gauchet’s understanding of modern society has developed—in particular, his critical engagement with Marxism and the profound influence of Cornelius Castoriadis and Claude Lefort on his work. It highlights the way Gauchet’s work remains faithful to an understanding of history that stresses the role of humanity as a collective subject, while also seeking to account for both the historical novelty of contemporary individualism and the new form of alienation that radical modernity engenders. In doing so, the book also opens up new avenues for reflection on the political significance of the contemporary health crisis.

    Marcel Gauchet and the Crisis of Democratic Politics will be of great interest to scholars and postgraduate students of social and political thought, political anthropology and sociology, political philosophy, and political theory.

    Preface: Why Read Marcel Gauchet?

    Daniel Tanguay

    Introduction: Marcel Gauchet: His Work in Context

    Natalie J. Doyle and Sean McMorrow

    Part I: Marcel Gauchet and the Contemporary Crisis of Democratic Politics

    1. Democracy from One Crisis to Another

    Marcel Gauchet, trans. Natalie J. Doyle, Mark Hewson and Sean McMorrow

    2. Populism as Symptom

    Marcel Gauchet, trans. Natalie J. Doyle, Mark Hewson and Sean McMorrow

    Part II: Insights into Marcel Gauchet’s Exploration of Political Modernity

    3. Marcel Gauchet and the Eclipse of the Political

    Stéphane Vibert, trans. Natalie J. Doyle and Brian C.J. Singer

    4. The Political Forms of Modernity: The Gauchet-Badiou Debate over Democracy and Communism

    Craig Browne

    5. Marcel Gauchet’s Political Anthropology: Originary Social Division and the ‘Processual’ Autonomy of a Community

    Sean McMorrow

    Part III: Reflections on Marcel Gauchet’s Analysis of Contemporary Democratic Culture

    6. The Political History of Individualism

    Mark Hewson

    7. Human Rights, Legal Democracy, and Populism

    Paul Blokker

    8. Juridification: Liberal Legalism and the Depoliticisation of Government

    Julian Martin and Natalie J. Doyle

    9. Thinking the Populist Challenge with and Against Marcel Gauchet

    Brian C.J Singer

    Part IV: Applying Gauchet's Analysis of Liberal Democracies: Beyond the Crisis?

    10. The New World of Neo-Liberal Democracy

    Natalie J. Doyle


    Natalie J. Doyle is Adjunct Senior Research Fellow in French Studies at the Faculty of Arts, Monash University, Melbourne. Dr Doyle has researched European social and political thought, both classical and contemporary, with particular reference to interpretations of modernity. Through a series of articles, book chapters, translations with critical introductions, and a monograph, she has established her international profile as a leading specialist of Marcel Gauchet’s political philosophy.

    Sean McMorrow is managing editor of Parrhesia: A Journal of Critical Philosophy. He teaches at the University of Melbourne and the Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy.

    "Deeper engagement with the work of Marcel Gauchet is important for both social science and understanding the contemporary world and its crises. In this volume, Doyle and McMorrow combine translations of new work by Gauchet with astute and timely discussions of how his work informs contemporary debates on democracy. It should be widely read."

    Craig Calhoun, Arizona State University

    "Slowly but surely, Marcel Gauchet is being recognised as a key thinker whose work is a vastly more insightful account of the modern condition than the fashionable canon of "French theory." He has published path-breaking analyses of twentieth-century totalitarianisms as well as of the more recent neo-liberal turn. This collection of critical essays on various aspects of his thought, accompanied by two of his most representative shorter texts, is a landmark in the English-language debate around Gauchet´s interpretation of democracy, its preconditions and its contemporary problems."

    Johann P. Arnason, La Trobe University/Charles University