The Political Theory of Everyday Life
Derek Edyvane and Demetris Tillyris
In her book, Ordinary Vices (1984), Judith Shklar identified the ‘ordinary’ as a neglected domain of political activity and interest. Shklar wrote of the ‘democracy of everyday life’ that typically proceeds outside of formal political institutions and beyond the purview of so much institutionally-focused political theory. More recently, there has been a growth of interest among political theorists around the ordinary and everyday dimensions of political life. We see this, for instance, in Danielle Allen’s work on the everyday sacrifices of citizens, in Bonnie Honig’s engagement with the ‘public things’ of democratic life, in Michael Ignatieff’s assessment of the ‘ordinary virtues’, in Nancy Rosenblum’s discussion of the ethics of the ‘good neighbour’, in James C. Scott’s analysis of ‘everyday resistance’, in Marc Stears’ articulation of ‘ordinary life’ as a resource for the revitalisation of democracy, and in Bernardo Zacka’s examination of the everyday ethics of ‘street-level bureaucrats’. Within the domain of the ordinary we find not only a vast and underexplored terrain for political theorising, but also a distinctive methodological puzzle concerning how best to conceptualise and investigate the everyday. Indeed, the work cited is striking for its methodological eclecticism and innovation – its willingness to move beyond the conventional methods of political theory to engage with empirical case studies, ethnography, history, art, film, and literature.
It is the aim of this workshop to explore this broad cluster of themes. Possible topics might include, but are by no means limited to, the following:
- Conceptualising and problematising the ‘ordinary’ and the ‘everyday’
- Investigating the ordinary (methodology)
- Ordinary vices and ordinary virtues
- Ordinary/everyday citizenship and democracy
- Everyday exclusion and inclusion (everyday racism and sexism; microaggressions)
- Everyday obedience, disobedience, and resistance
- Everyday political institutions, practices, and rituals
We encourage the participation of scholars at all career stages including postgraduate researchers. Scholars working outside of political theory, but with interest in related interdisciplinary topics are also very welcome. We anticipate holding the workshop in hybrid format to allow for in-person and online participation. If you would like to participate, please send an abstract of no more than 300 words (prepared for blind review) for a presentation of 30 minutes (pre-circulation of papers will be optional) to Demetris.firstname.lastname@example.org by 23 May. Selected speakers will be notified shortly thereafter.
+44 (0) 161 306 6000