Why We Hate Politics
March 2007, Polity
In this lively and original work, Colin Hay provides a series of
innovative and provocative answers to these questions. He begins by
tracing the origins and development of the current climate of
political disenchantment across a broad range of established
democracies. Far from revealing a rising tide of apathy, however,
he shows that a significant proportion of those who have withdrawn
from formal politics are engaged in other modes of political
He goes on to develop and defend a broad and inclusive conception of politics and the political that is far less formal, less state-centric and less narrowly governmental than in most conventional accounts. By demonstrating how our expectations of politics and the political realities we witness are shaped decisively by the assumptions about human nature that we project onto political actors, Hay provides a powerful and highly distinctive account of contemporary political disenchantment. Why We Hate Politics will be essential reading for all those troubled by the contemporary political condition of the established democracies.
List of Figures and Tables vi
Preface and Acknowledgements viii
1 Political Disenchantment 1
2 Politics, Participation and Politicization 61
3 The Domestic Sources of Depoliticization 90
4 The Global Sources of Depoliticization 123
5 Why Do We Hate Politics? 153
- An original and illuminating analysis of current trends in
- A brilliantly written text which is likely to become a minor
classic in the field.
- Examines and explains current levels of disengagement and
apathy towards politics and politicians.
- Genuinely international and comparative in focus.
- Written with clarity and verve by a very well respected scholar.
"This is, without reservation, a powerful, ambitious and
provocative text that is destined to become a classic book in the
field of political science."
Matthew Flinders, British Politics
"A fascinating and well-written account which seeks to
illuminate, and then diagnose, the problem of declining political
participation in advanced liberal democracies ... Hay's book is not
only well written and well balanced; it asks all of the right
Australian Journal of Political Science
"A well written and thoughtful contribution to the debate on
declining levels of interest in conventional politics."
"Hay's argument is both intriguing and cogent. [A] highly
valuable and innovative account."
Political Studies Review
"All reflective public managers should contend with Colin Hay's
"Hay's book sharply identifies the corrosive consequences of
government attempts to evade the problem of public political
engagement. It therefore provides a good way into understanding the
complex relationships between the ideas and assumptions we project
on to politics and the resulting practices and processes."
"This is a superb, high-quality piece of academic research.
There is real intelligence at work, being applied to big important
problems. Colin Hay makes his arguments cleanly, without making
unnecessarily heavy weather of them. He is judicious in his use of
evidence, with his tables invariably making telling points. His
'summary lists' capture the structures of the arguments elegantly
and accurately. Intellectually, it's a wonderful book."
Robert E. Goodin, Australian National University
"Although written in a different era, and in a different
disciplinary climate, the obvious comparison is with Crick's In
Defence of Politics. Like that book, it is guided by a real
moral vision that uplifts the practice of politics. Technically it
also resembles Crick in simultaneously addressing the beginning
reader and the case hardened teacher and practitioner. It is
wonderfully clear and direct throughout, but never shirks the
analysis of complex data."
Michael Moran, University of Manchester
"In this challenging, original and wide-ranging study Colin Hay
provides a searching examination of the reasons for political
disaffection and disengagement, arguing that we should resist the
trend to take the politics out of politics. By depoliticizing the
ways in which we govern our societies, we lose the capacity to
change them. This book should be read by everyone concerned with
how to renew our politics and re-engage our citizens."
Andrew Gamble, University of Sheffield