The project explores how political disagreement is handled discursively: what strategies are used and what socio-political implications such strategies have. The starting point is a premise that acknowledging disagreement and engaging with it is indispensable for politics – politics understood as making choices between alternatives (Beck 1994, Carver & Hyvärinen 1997, Mouffe 2005, Muntigl 2002). Accordingly, the way political disagreement is handled can have serious implications for the quality of political practices. In order for political decisions to be made in accordance with the ‘force of the better argument’ (Habermas 1984), it is necessary to acknowledge disagreement as legitimate and to engage with it. Otherwise, argumentation – the exchange of reasons triggered by disagreement (Jackson & Jacobs 1980, Lewinski & Mohammed 2016) cannot even start.
Shutting the room for argumentation takes various shapes, many of which (e.g. depoliticisation of austerity, populism) are quite familiar in today’s world. Aiming to gain new insights into the discursive handling of political disagreement and its implications, the project examines public political arguments in a variety of national contexts where disagreement has been limited and argumentation inhibited: by depoliticisation (e.g. Portugal, Spain and Greece) and by populism (e.g. the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, Greece, the UK and the USA). The analysis maps the strategies that manage disagreement about political actions and the values underlying them. It identifies the specific characteristics of the various strategies and highlights a crucial core common to various phenomena that disempower citizens and threaten inclusive representative democracy (depoliticisation, populism, technocracy … etc).
• Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), France
• Instituto Universitário De Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), Portugal
• Københavns Universitet, Denmark
• Loughborough University, the United Kingdom
• Universidad de Granada, Spain
• University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
• Universiteit Leiden, the Netherlands
• Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland