Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Transnational publicity in theory and practice: The world social forum between deliberation and agonism
by Gonzalez, Cristina, Ph.D., The New School, 2015, 177; 3707637
Abstract (Summary)

The emergence of transnational practices of publicity challenges the established political theories of democracy, which presuppose a national citizenry and a national democratic state. The subjects of transnational public spheres lack a common citizenship status to develop legitimate public opinion, as well as corresponding decision-making institutions to address their demands. However, by creating solidarity, building legitimate public opinion and communicating their demands on the base of alternative premises, transnational public spheres defy Westphalian assumptions. The World Social Forum serves as a paradigmatic case: while it develops new types of solidarity "among strangers" through horizontal debate and articulation, it unfolds antagonistic forms of communication with global neoliberal institutions of power.

This dissertation aims to contribute to the debate on the critical function of the notion of publicity in the context of globalization. Drawing on Habermas's theory of deliberative democracy and Mouffe's democratic theory of "agonistic pluralism," I examine the World Social Forum's forms of communication, creation of solidarity and legitimation of alternative discourses. Agonistic and deliberative theories of democracy have been traditionally regarded as antithetical, since the former stress conflict and dissent, while the latter emphasize dialogue and consensus. However, the analysis of political experiences like the World Social Forum not only shows that both perspectives are not fully incompatible, but also that they are both necessary to grasp the complexity of actual transnational publicity. In particular, I argue that the combination of these theories reveals one of the main characteristics of the WSF: the merging of antagonistic and consensual practices of communication.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Fraser, Nancy
Commitee: Bargu, Banu, Dodd, James, Kalyvas, Andreas
School: The New School
Department: Political Science
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 76/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Philosophy, Political science
Keywords: Agonism, Deliberation, Habermas, Mouffe, Transnational publicity, World social forum
Publication Number: 3707637
ISBN: 978-1-321-82340-0
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