Beyond the social and political: a synthesis of the political theories of Hannah Arendt and Michael Foucault

Edwards, Claire Jane (2012) Beyond the social and political: a synthesis of the political theories of Hannah Arendt and Michael Foucault. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis argues for a move beyond the division of contemporary western experiences
into separate social and political spheres. This includes a comparative study of the theories
of Hannah Arendt and Michel Foucault alongside historical and contemporary examples in
support of the relevance of their theories and that of this thesis.

The synthesis between Arendt and Foucault made here corrects the respective weaknesses in each theory by using the strengths of the other. Furthermore, this synthesis informs a move beyond the social and political referred to above. The critique of sovereignty, the defence of plurality and the critique of instrumental reason are shown here as the most important parallels between the two thinkers and the central ways that people in contemporary western society are disempowered. This thesis argues for a reconsideration of these issues in order to redress this disempowerment.

The thesis also looks at the major divergence between the two thinkers which is shown to rest on their respective treatment of the social and political. This argument rejects the Arendtian argument for the separation of the social and political to favour Foucauldian resistance located on and within the everyday experiences of western individuals. This shown to be political action rooted in the social aspects of the individuals' lives and stands in opposition to the claims of Arendt regarding the social. However, this retains the political
strengths of her vision.

The synthesis of the strengths of both theorists alongside the ultimate rejection of the Arendtian separation of the social and political that this Foucauldian resistance exemplifies is concluded as constituting a move beyond the social and political to have more relevance, meaning and ultimate empowerment for individuals because it more accurately reflects the realities of their everyday lives.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2012 08:23
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2015 14:21
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/39435

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