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The autonomy of the political: A socio-theoretical response

By C. Thornhill


This article sets out a series of critical reflections on recent and contemporary theoretical literature that makes expansive claims for the status of the political as an autonomous category of social practice in modern society, and it argues that such theories usually rest on rather tautological and self-supporting constructions of society's politicality. To counter this, the article advocates and proposes a social-functional reconstruction of what, precisely, is political in modern society, and it suggests that modern societies are in fact structurally dependent on their ability to reduce the volume of social exchanges that have to be articulated as specifically political. In particular, it asserts that many aspects of the legitimatory grammar of modern societies ― especially rights and constitutions ― are devices through which societies restrict their political concentration and de-politicize their primary functions. On this basis, the article concludes by proposing a more limited concept of the political that is socio-theoretically adjusted to, and usable in, the evolved form of a modern society

Topics: JA
Year: 2009
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Provided by: Enlighten
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