Anti-politics and Discourses of Depoliticisation

City Hall - John Barbirolli Room
Time Slot: 
Wednesday 1st April 11:00 - 12:30
Panel Chair: 
  • Dr Matt Wood (University of Sheffield)
Panel Discussant: 
  • Dr Katharine Dommett (University of Sheffield)
Panel Members: 
  • Awaiting details of this person
  • Professor Steven Griggs (De Montfort University)
  • Dr David Howarth
  • Professor Matthew Flinders (University of Sheffield)
  • Mr Adam Standring (FCSH - Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
  • Dr Laura Jenkins (University of Birmingham)
  • Dr Andrew Neal (University of Edinburgh)

Politicians and other political elites often attempt to cover up the contestability of neoliberal policies, for example welfare cuts or privatisation, by stating that those policies are not, or should not be considered ‘political’. For the past 15 years, literature on depoliticisation has critically interrogated these discourses, arguing that policies often portrayed as non-political are in fact highly political, and detailing how political elites attempt to make them appear otherwise. To date, however, the specifically discursive element of depoliticisation has been under-conceptualised. A corpus of literature on discourse, rhetoric, emotions and ideology has long sought to do a very similar thing – exposing and critically analysing ideological manoeuvres intended to give legitimacy to otherwise contentious policies – but to date this literature has not systematically adopted the concepts of depoliticisation and anti-politics. Moreover, the depoliticisation literature has not yet systematically engaged with theoretical and conceptual frameworks in the study of political discourse. This innovative panel will integrate theoretical and conceptual frameworks from studies of political discourse into the analysis of anti-politics and depoliticisation. Do concepts such as ‘fantasmatic discourse’ improve our analytical insights into how depoliticisation occurs? In what way do theories of emotion help us understand why anti-politics is such a widespread phenomenon in western societies? How can integrating these concepts and theories help us explain empirical instances of anti-politics and depoliticisation? In answering these questions, contributors will offer innovative conceptual and theoretical frameworks, and investigate original empirical terrain in the form of new policy areas such as aviation and environment.