This chapter explores and evaluates poststructuralist approaches to the political theory and analysis of the state. It begins by putting poststructuralism into a very broad philosophical context, relating it to historical changes in Western society and culture and to current trends in political science. We argue that poststructuralism is distinctive in its opposition to analyses that treat politics as derivative of forces that are explicitly or implicitly non-political. Poststructuralists argue that ‘the political’ is the dimension of social existence in which social relations are constituted and contested and as such a cause and not merely an effect of social phenomena. We regard the state as an outcome of political activities as well as a contribution to them and this is because, as we will see, poststructuralism interprets the state not as a ‘thing’ but as a practice or ensemble of practices. In explicating this view we shall consider, not uncritically, some varieties of poststructuralist theory and analysis: the discourse theory developed by Laclau and Mouffe, critical theories of international relations and Foucauldian approaches to ‘governmentality’.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number
- Chapter 8