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New Theories of Discourse: Laclau, Mouffe and Zizek

New Theories of Discourse: Laclau, Mouffe and Zizek

Jacob Torfing

ISBN: 978-0-631-19558-0

Jan 1999, Wiley-Blackwell

356 pages

Select type: Paperback

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This book provides a comprehensive and accessible account of the new theories of discourse developed by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, while in particular drawing on central insights provided by Slavoj Zizek. The book accounts for intellectual development of the discourse theory of Laclau and Mouffe from a Gramsci-inspired critique of structural Marxism over a neo-Gramscian theory of discourse to a new type of postmodern theorizing of great relevance for social, cultural and political theory.

The central concepts of discourse, hegemony and social antagonism are carefully explained and discussed and the theoretical framework is applied both on a variety of theoretical problems and in a sample of empirical studies. The book concludes with a discussion of the implications of discourse theory for our political understanding of democracy, citizenship and ethics.

New Theories of Discourse is written out of the basic conviction that postmodernity provides a great challenge to social, cultural and political theory and makes thinkable a whole range of new political projects of which the development of a radical plural democracy is one of the most promising and exciting.



Introduction: Discourse theory in context.

Part I: Intellectual development:.


1. A Gramsci-inspired critique of structural Marxism.

2. The advancement of a neo-Gramscian theory of discourse.

3. Towards a new type of postmodern theorizing.

Part II: Theoretical concepts:.


4. Discourse.

5. Hegemony.

6. Social antagonism.

Part III: Problems and possible solutions:.


7. Structure and agency.

8. Power and authority.

9. The universal and the particular.

Part IV: Discourse analysis at work:.


10. The politics of nationalism and racism.

11. The politics of mass media.

12. The politics of the modern welfare state.

Part V: Political perspectives:.


13. Towards a radical plural democracy.

14. Beyond libertarianism and communitarianism.

15. The contours of a postmodern ethics?.

Conclusion: The tasks ahead.


Further reading.



* The first comprehensive, broad ranging and accessible account of the contribution of discourse analysis to social and political theory.
* Comprised of a large number of relatively short chapters, each has been specifically designed to form the basis of a weeks reading at a time.
* Supported by a detailed bibliography and guide to further reading, this volume is particularly suitable for teaching purposes.