Connecting, Arguing, Fighting
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Aggressive and other powerful affective forces pose a real challenge for the project of a pluralist democracy. The danger is that new deliberative techniques are adopted which facilitate inclusiveness and manageability, but at the expense of impassioned argument. This paper examines the Listening Post, a deliberative technique, which has specifically emerged out of the therapeutic culture and which therefore foregrounds the role of unconscious affect in group communication. This article provides a case study of an event that drew upon free associational methods for promoting ‘reflexive citizenship’. The case study highlights some of the difficulties in distinguishing between ‘cool’ and ‘hot’ forms of connectivity, between impassioned argument and a ‘fight to the death’ and between forms of communicative action which simulate the reflexive exploration of difference and those which facilitate the real thing.
Keywordspolitics antagonism reflexivity free association splitting
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