Re-thinking Contemporary Political Behaviour: The Difference that Agency Makes, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Re-thinking Contemporary Political Behaviour

The Difference that Agency Makes, 1st Edition

By Sadiya Akram


140 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-02-28
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Proposing a novel approach to understanding the contemporary political landscape, Akram draws on the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Margaret Archer on agency and argues the need for an in-depth engagement with concepts of agency to improve the reach and scope of political analysis.

Is the way that people engage with politics changing? If so, how well-equipped are we to document and explain the extent and range of the ways in which people are engaging in politics today? This book tackles these questions through a blend of theoretical reflection and empirical research, shedding new light on the relationship between arena and process definitions of politics, and how the social relates to the political. Hitherto unexplored features of agency such as the unconscious and the internal political conversation are shown to be critical in exploring how people mobilise today and how they make sense of their political engagement. Two in-depth case studies of the internal political conversations that individuals hold as well as an analysis of the 2011 UK riots are presented.

Making a case for the role of self-expression in politics, this book will be of use for graduates and scholars interested in British politics, political theory, social theory, political sociology, the theory and practice of political engagement and political behaviour.

Table of Contents


Part One

Chapter 1. Political Participation: The Debate So Far

Chapter 2. Agency and Political Participation

Chapter 3. Agency: The Neglect of the Unconscious

Chapter 4. Talking Heads? The Internal Political Conversation

Part Two

Chapter 5. Exploring Internal Political Conversations

Chapter 6. Rioting: Criminal, Political or Post-political Act?

Conclusion: Contemporary Political Behaviour – Looking Forward

About the Author

Sadiya Akram is a lecturer in political theory at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her articles have appeared in The British Journal of Sociology and The British Journal of Criminology and Public Administration.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Anti-Politics and Democratic Crisis

We supposedly live in an anti-political age in which popular disaffection threatens to undermine the very foundations of democratic rule. From the rise of radical right wing populism through to public cynicism towards politicians, institutions and processes of government are being buffeted by unprecedented change that have in turn raised questions about the viability of seemingly foundational practices. Is confidence in those who rule beyond repair? Can citizens meaningfully engage in the political process? Are today’s leaders able to exercise authority?

Politicians often respond to these pressures by placing responsibility for decision making in the hands of experts, scientists, civil servants, and even private companies. However, their attempts to gain trust and credibility often fail as the media, lobbyists and social movements blame them for political failures and crises, from migration and floods to diseases and crime. Can politicians ever avoid blame for policy failures? When do usually technical issues become politicised, and by how do they pressurise politicians to step in? What are the implications for democratic accountability and responsibility at multiple levels, from city streets to global forums?

These sorts of questions reverberate around the globe and cut to the core of democratic life as we know it. They pose theoretical and empirical questions that are integral to the future of the way we are governed. The capacity of democracy to renew itself crucially depends on the answers we give.

This book series aims to provide a forum for the discussion of topics and themes related to anti-politics, depoliticisation, and political crisis. We seek works that push forward debate and challenge taken-for-granted orthodoxies. We privilege ambitious proposals that ask big questions and engage with a range of materials. Reflecting this, the series is intentionally pluralistic in its geographic, methodological and disciplinary scope. Empirical and comparative contributions are especially welcome.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Social Policy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Cultural Policy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Commentary & Opinion
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Communication Policy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Media & Internet