Agonistic Pluralism



I argue that agonistic pluralism, though not without its faults, offers a unique and powerful, and as yet under-researched, platform through which to understand and explain much about the potential and existing democratic role of ethnic media. Its most intriguing insight, and the source of much of its controversy, stems from its search for a new way of balancing pluralism and consensus (Mouffe, 2000b). My primary engagement with Chantal Mouffe’s version of agonistic democracy, among a raft of overlapping yet differing choices, stems largely from her insistence on the necessity and inevitability of some form of shared grounding and boundaries, upon and within which democratic interactions can take place. That Mouffe wants these foundations consistently questioned, exposed and challenged, rather than abandoned altogether, differentiates her from more radical proponents of an agonism that refuse any form of collective governance or the formation, even temporarily, of shared rules and spaces for democratic dialogue (Wingenbach in Institutionalising agonistic democracy: Post foundationalism and political liberalism. Ashgate Publishing, Surrey). These latter approaches, I suggest, pay less attention to one of the fundamental aspects of Mouffe’s writing, and an aspect of central importance to (ethnic) media studies—the management of interaction in plural societies in a way that rejects political closure and yet acknowledges the importance of institutional support for agonism and difference.


Mouffe Agonistic democracy Ethnic media Pluralism 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MediaUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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