Politics between justification and defiance

with Paul Blokker

European Journal of Social Theory August 2011 vol. 14 no. 3 283-300



The article discusses the status and role of politics — in its various facets — in the pragmatic sociology of critique. We focus on a number of different dimensions of politics — politics-as-justification, politics-as-distribution, politics-as-constitution, and politics-as-defiance — that can said to be of importance for a pragmatic sociology of critique, but that have not all been taken up equally in this approach. We situate pragmatic sociology in a tradition of thought that views politics as emerging in the settlement of disputes over differences without resorting to violence. However, we argue that pragmatic sociology tends to ignore questions of the constitution of politics, and suggest that one way of bringing the foundational aspect upfront is by conceptualizing and studying defiance, including forms of explicit (dissent) and implicit critique (resistance) of the existing order.


Elias Canetti and the counter-image of resistance

Thesis Eleven August 2011 vol. 106 no. 1 73-87



The attempt by Arnason and Roberts to interpret Canetti’s work in the context of social theory is taken here as the point of departure to investigate Canetti’s view on the phenomenon of resistance. Resistance is explored in the context of Canetti’s reflection on power and transformation. Further, it is argued that through his substantive concern for crowds (but also for packs, or small bands), an epistemological challenge emerges for social theory. Canetti gives us some precious insights on phenomena of ambiguous multiplicity, which are neither simple sums of separate individuals nor an ontologized Durkheimian collective. Not only this, he resolutely ventures towards the contingency at the foundation of social order, the ‘just-thisness’ of power, revealing its non-symbolic basis in gestures that impart affects. It is at this level that resistance can be best understood as a movement of liberation from the grip of power.

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