Towards a Sociological Account of Political Agon: (Re)considering the Social Dimensions of Agonal Democracy

  • Philip Alexander Steiner


Within Western scholarship, recent democratic theory has been dominated by notions of deliberation, compromise, and consensus. A challenge to these notions emerged out of a small but important paradigm of social and political theory, one that conceptually re-prioritized the political ideal of agon. Engaging with the contributions of political theorist Chantal Mouffe as an exemplar of agonal theory, this chapter aims to demonstrate that both the analytic foundations and normative commitments of her writings concurrently imply and depend upon a considerably more robust notion of the social than that which she utilizes. Drawing on the classical sociological perspectives of Ferdinand Tönnies and Georg Simmel, this chapter puts forth just such a robust account, suggesting a complementary vocabulary through which to explore the hitherto occluded social dimensions of agonal democratic theory.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip Alexander Steiner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Law and Legal StudiesCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada

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