Contemporary Political Theory

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 49–65 | Cite as

Silence: A Politics

  • Kennan Ferguson


This article investigates the unfamiliar political implications of silence. Generally regarded as simply a lack of speech imposed upon the powerless, silence is thereby positioned as inimical to politics. In a normatively constituted lingual politics, silence's role can never be more than that of absence. The subsequent understanding that silence can operate as resistance to domination has opened original and ground-breaking treatments of its role in political practice. However, the argument here moves beyond this simple dualism, examining how silence does not merely reinforce or resist power, but can be used to constitute selves and even communities. That silence can operate in such diverse ways, as oppression, resistance, and/or community formation, leads to the recognition that its ultimate politics cannot be fixed and determined.


silence politics communication linguistics community 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kennan Ferguson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Government and International AffairsUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

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