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Session Overview
RN32_03a_H: (De-)Politicization in the Neoliberal Era III
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Fabio de Nardis, CSPS - University of Salento
Location: HB.2.16
HAROKOPIO University 70 El. Venizelou Street 17671 Athens, Greece Building: B, Level: 2.

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Precarious Stateness as a Challenge to Political Sociology

Klaus Mueller

AGH-University of Science & Technology, Poland

Over the last decades, theories of social transformation did not pay much attention to the role of the state. In the western literature the state appeared as a survival of ‘classical modernity’ without major impact in the times of globalization. Concepts of civil society, protest movements, post-statist forms of governance, cosmopolitanism, transnationality, etc. seemed better suited to a ‘fluid modernity’. In Eastern Europe the breakdown of the communist system discredited any form of state-led reconstruction. The complementary failure of the post-war welfare state and of state socialism launched a global turn to the market as organisational principle of ‘reform’.

Two decades later it became obvious that neglecting the importance of stateness has a price. The reliance on markets as drivers of transformation led into a paradoxical situation: Financial capitalism survived the blow of the self-produces global crisis only with massive intervention of the states – at the cost of shifting private debt into escalating state deficits. In the post-soviet region, the anarchic disintegration of society provoked the return of an authoritarian state. The supranational integration of the EU is in danger to fall back into national segments.

A conclusive answer of the complimentary failure of states and markets is out of sight. Nevertheless, a conceptual understanding of different types of state failure helps to identify some great challenges to political sociology. Two categories are especially useful: state desertion, the retreat of the state from its responsibilities, leading to a loss of legitimacy; and state capture, the usurpation of state functions by powerful elites, as to be observed in some post-communist countries as well as the U.S.

De-politicization and de-structuration of the collective sphere: towards a thin political behavior?

Andrea Fabrizio Pirni, Luca Raffini

University of Genoa, Italy

The paper deals with the de-politicization process characterizing contemporary society as an effect of the de-structuration of collective sphere. The assumption is that we observe a multiplication of subjects characterized by transformative identities, that contribute to produce a rarefied and pulviscular collective sphere. This novel kind of collective sphere is no longer composed by stable and exclusive groups, but by inherently inclusive and temporary aggregations.

The first section of the contribution is devoted to the framing of the conceptual and empirical tools used to explore the above mentioned processes. Thus, we analyze the factors that in our hypothesis contribute to generate this change. We focus in particular on the relationship between action and identification. Departing from the theory of Alberto Melucci (1996), we will explore the dynamics by which the relation between identification and action end up being reversed. The action no longer follows the identification. Action and identification appear rather synchronized and overlapping. As a result, the individual action, even in collective and political context become primarily subjective and its political connotation seems to weaken.

Summing up, we outline the spread of a political behavior that, even providing resources for the identification, it is characterized by a low political salience, both at individual and at collective level. Yet, in these processes it is possibile to identify some "fatiguing" dynamics of ri-politicization.

De-Politcization in the Neoliberal Era. Looking for a theoretical systematization

Fabio de Nardis

CSPS - University of Salento, Italy

The aim of the paper is to propose a theoretical systematization of the concept of de-Politicization that has been defined in several and often contradictory ways. We consider it, in short, to be a set of changes in the ways power is exercised. These modes downgrade the political nature of decision-making and, through representation, give legitimacy to actors apparently less able to bear witness to the presence of the “political”. Institutional politics appears less responsible for the decisions that affect the regulation of society and the impact of their costs and failures on economic and cultural processes. Political choices conditioned by the market acquire the character of necessity and inevitability. De-politicization has been consolidated in various ways. For example, in the European context we can observe de-politicized processes in the governmental as well as in the societal and discursive dynamics as a clear strategy carried out by neoliberal actors and institutions. Very often, also the reactive actions by civil society through participative and resilient processes seem to be strongly conditioned by this new master frame ending up being consistent with the neoliberal flow. Within this picture, we try to reflect on these phenomena especially through a logical systematization of the rich literature on the topic with aiming at the identification of some research areas where scholars can gather some empirical evidence of de-politicization practices and its main consequences.

Society in global disorder: relation between (dis)integration and (de)politicization

Irina Leonidovna Nedyak, Artemy Mikhaylovich Kuchinov

Institute of Sociology, Federal Research Sociological Center, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow

Positive reintegration turns to be a crucial issue in political agenda of current global disorder triggered by liberal globalization. There is vibrant interdependency between routes of (de)politicization and disunity across societies that is produced by disproportion liberalization vs social regulation, inequality, forced austerity, dismantling of welfare state, social citizenship and therefore democratic rights.

We identify an increasing menace of synergy of two revolts. First: deprived groups and thus “dangerous class”. First in modern history it is upheld by parts of the middle class - heretofore a decisive guardian of the democratic order. Second: many faced extremism/populism that has captured political spectrum abandoned by crowded in the center establishment parties.

The presentation proposes to discuss the following issues:

- Interaction between neoliberal marketization of political sphere and (de)politicization; arrangements to prevent erosion of the political field, public sphere and operational institutions.

- Measures to abate disunity caused by unregulated market intervention into political and social fields that has instigated the clash between republican, communitarian and liberal values for social solidarism and cohesion; ways of fostering their fusion to achieve positive integration.

- Ambiguous aftermath of empowering the citizens both in and through domains of state, market and network.

- Reshaping of social contract through embedding horizontal model into current vertical one to bargain a socially acceptable integration; enhancement of establishment parties by civil movements; assessment of such antidotes for disunity and extremism as identity values, new forms of solidarity.

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