political affect

Bringing labour back In: class antagonism, labour agency and Britain’s active labour market reforms

Dr Jay Wiggan


Since the 1980s Britain has constructed a ‘work first activation state’. Through various employment programmes, curtailment of benefit entitlement, strengthening of sanctions and work related activity attached to (non-employed) working-age benefits the state has cajoled claimants into employment as quickly as possible. The study draws on an innovative political theory rarely utilised in social policy, Autonomist Marxism, to challenge existing top down accounts of Britain’s transformation of social security and employment policy. These typically ground explanations in electoral positioning (tough on welfare), ideas (neo-liberalism) or functionalist logic (necessary for UK growth model). In contrast here we focus attention on how labour market ‘activation’ reforms are rooted in antagonistic class relations through the novel ‘bottom up’ autonomist thesis that positions labour as the motor of change and policy innovation.

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The Law of Disorder

Dr Illan rua Wall


This project will pioneer the new field of the law of disorder. Legal concepts are usually framed as being a part of the everyday social order. However, in moments of disorder we find the legal system stripped of its conventional architecture: the monopoly of the use of force, the control of territory and populations, the authority of the legislature, the constitutional unity of the people, or law’s claim to neutral universal protection. In moments of disorder, law as an institution and a basis of the social order is questioned. The problem with extant ideas of the law of disorder is that they start from law’s ‘normalcy’. The ‘Law of Disorder’ reverses the priority wherein law is the horizon of meaning for understanding disorder. Instead it places the emphasis on thinking from within the ‘disordered’ event, attempting to see beyond the conventional legal understanding of constitutional ‘origins’, criminal prosecution and balancing of rights.

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Social Justice, Predistribution and the Democratization of Capital: Political Theory and the Future of Social Democracy

Dr Martin O’Neill


This is a major research project in normative political philosophy, addressing the justice and justification of a number of specific real-world economic institutions. Its aim is to make fuller sense of emerging ideas of “predistribution”, questioning whether predistributive strategies can generate a positive direction for future progress towards more just and democratic societies. In particular, the primary area of examination will be designing and realizing a more democratic financial system, with a particular focus on the justifiability and plausibility of ideas relating to the democratization of capital investment.

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Discipline, Dissent and Dispossession

Dr Lara Montesinos Coleman


Dominant accounts of resistance to “neoliberal globalization” too often read resistance off theories of global order or presume situated struggles to be manifestations of a global resisting subject. Comparatively little attention has been paid to the variegated texture of dissent, or to how anti-systemic struggles are routinely nullified – drawn into the very processes of order-building they profess to contest – through a nexus of interventions organized around apparently emancipatory values. This project seeks to establish a deeper understanding of what is at stake in the interplay between anti-systemic struggles and the more widely-dispersed modes of political control that may be directed toward and through practices of dissent.

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Sortition and the requirement for state impartiality in transitional and developing democracies

Dr Olly Dowlen


This study programme is designed to investigate how the use of randomly selected citizens in public offices could help to develop impartial state institutions and so add stability to developing democracies. By exploring and identifying problems relating to factionalism experienced by modern states in transition to democracy or seeking to maintain democratic progress, the study then uses several model schemes to assess how sortition could contribute towards their resolution.

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