Normality as social semantics. Schmitt, Bourdieu and the politics of the normal

European Journal of Social Theory 20 (2):275-291 (2017)
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This article takes issue with the practical and the cognitive roles of normality within political life and its relevance to the constitution of the groups that comprise a political community. From a practical viewpoint, normality fosters standards of correctness; from a cognitive viewpoint, these standards are what allows individuals to perceive themselves, and to be recognized, as group members. To achieve this aim, the article delves into Carl Schmitt’s and Pierre Bourdieu’s accounts of how politics is a field where semantic struggles take place that are meant to impose alternative visions of the social world. Different types of connections and relationships among individuals and groups (which rule out alternative connections and relationships) shore up a specific vision of the social world (which rules out alternative visions). The article concludes by saying that awareness of the normalizing effects of politics is key to producing a counter-politics meant to defy the naturalization and de-historicization that every political representation furthers.



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