Discourse Theory and Political Analysis: Identities, Hegemonies and Social Change

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David R. Howarth, Aletta J. Norval, Yannis Stavrakakis
Manchester University Press, Nov 18, 2000 - Social Science - 243 pages
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How can recent developments in post-structuralist, post-Marxist and psychoanalytic theory actually inform ongoing empirical research? What are the appropriate methods and strategies for conducting research in discourse theory and analysis? How can concepts such as hegemony, identity, the imaginary, dislocation and empty signifiers illuminate key aspects of contemporary society and politics? This multi-focal work brings together commissioned contributions from the Essex School of Political Discourse Theory. Drawing inspiration from the works of Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, Slavoj Zizek, Jacques Derrida, Michael Foucault and Jacques Lacan, the contributors address particular questions using a common theoretical language. The book contains a clear introductory statement of the theoretical approach used, and concludes with an assessment of the future directions of discourse theory in the social sciences. This global volume ranges geographically from Western and Eastern Europe to Latin America and South Africa, from Hong Kong to Turkey and the USA. Each chapter has been selected to address a key theme and issue in contemporary politics and to highlight central concepts and research strategies in the post-structuralist, post-Marxist and psychoanalytical traditions of thinking. David Howarth is Lecturer in Politics at the University of Essex and is currently Director of Masters Programme in Ideology and Discourse Analysis in the Department of Government, Aletta J. Norval is Senior Lecturer in Political Theory at the University of Essex and Director of the Doctoral Programme in Ideology and Discourse Analysis, Yannis Stavrakakis is lecturing on the Ideology and Discourse Analysis Programme in the Department of Government at the Univesity of Essex
 

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This is an excellent introduction to the 'discourse-theoretic' approach to political analysis - even/especially for readers who are not wholehearted adherents to that paradigm. Whilst much work in discourse theory veers dangerously towards obfuscation in language style and theoretical complexity, Norval, Howarth and Stavrakakis have compiled a collection of essays which are generally noteworthy for their clarity and precision. Those seeking to understand the post-structuralist-influenced 'Essex school' of discourse theory and ideological analysis will find this book a highly useful compendium, especially the excellent introductory chapter. I remain somewhat underwhelmed by many of the examples of applied discourse-theory presented in the book, however. These don't really assuage concerns that the heavy theoretical and methodological complexity of discourse theory in the post-structuralist tradition is not actually matched by the insights and analytic power produced when that methodology is applied. Nevertheless, this is a book that needs to be read, and engaged with, by the wider field of ideological studies and political analysis more generally. 

Contents

Argentine politics after
24
Provisionalism and the impossiblity of justice in Northern
70
The Mexican revolutionary mystique
86
the dislocation factor
100
The construction of Romanian social democracy 19891996
119
the proliferation of political identities
134
womens struggles in Chiapas
151
The constitution and dissolution of the Kemalist imaginary
193
Trajectories of future research in discourse theory
219
Index
237
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About the author (2000)

David Howarth is Lecturer in Politics at the University of Essex and is currently Director of the Masters Program in Ideology and Discourse Analysis in the Department of Government.

Aletta J. Norval is Senior Lecturer in Political Theory at the University of Sussex and Director of the Doctoral Program in Ideology and Discourse Analysis.

Yannis Stavrakakis teaches on the Ideology and Discourse Analysis Program in the Department of Government at the University of Essex.

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