The “Agonistic Turn”: Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics in New Contexts

  • Lida MaxwellEmail author
  • Cristina Beltrán
  • Shatema Threadcraft
  • Stephen K. White
  • Miriam Leonard
  • Bonnie Honig
Critical Exchange

First published in 1993, Bonnie Honig’s Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics challenged political theorists’ focus on justifying political institutions and norms, and helped to usher in what we might call an “agonistic turn” in political theory. While searching for “agonism politics” in Google Scholar brings up more than 26,000 results today, for entries prior to 1993 those same search terms number only 1300 results. As of July, there are already 2160 results for 2019 alone.

Agonism’s move from a marginal to central place in contemporary political theory has a double edge. Many varieties of democratic theorists have largely adopted one of Honig’s main claims – that agonistic contestation is not a regrettable feature of democracy, but a democratic good – as their own. This once-provocative claim seems now uncontroversial. The absorption of agonism into the theoretical mainstream, on the one hand, means that political theorists are much more focused on contestatory politics...



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lida Maxwell
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cristina Beltrán
    • 2
  • Shatema Threadcraft
    • 3
  • Stephen K. White
    • 4
  • Miriam Leonard
    • 5
  • Bonnie Honig
    • 6
  1. 1.Boston UniversityBoston, MAUSA
  2. 2.New York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Dartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA
  4. 4.University of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  5. 5.University College LondonLondonUK
  6. 6.Cornell University PressIthacaUSA

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