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Depoliticisation as process, governance as practice: what did the 'first wave' get wrong and do we need a 'second wave' to put it right?

  • Hay, Colin
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2015
Kaleidoscope Open Archive
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To what extent do we need a 'second-wave' of writing on depoliticisation to correct the biases of the first and thereby to improve our capacity to gain analytical traction on the dynamic interplay between politicising and depoliticising tendencies in contemporary liberal democracies? In this article I welcome the debate this special issue has opened, but defend the first wave against its critics. More specifically, I argue that the first wave literature provides ample analytical and theoretical resources to capture the dynamic interplay between depoliticising tendencies and politicising or repoliticising counter-tendencies which its critics rightly place at centre stage. Indeed, I go further, suggesting that the more empirical contributions of the special issue, while bringing a series of new and important insights to the analysis of politicisation–depoliticisation dynamics, in fact do so by drawing extensively on first wave depoliticisation theory. Such work is very necessary and advances significantly our understanding of depoliticising, but it extends rather than challenges first wave perspectives and is ultimately better characterised as 'second generation' rather than 'second wave'.

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