Thinking Doing : The Politicisation of Thoughtless Action

University dissertation from Stockholm : Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: Scholarly disputes about the concept of political action commonly centre on what can be regarded as political. By contrast, Hannah Arendt suggests that the concept of action itself is an equally significant component and consequently bids us to ‘think what we are doing’. The dissertation explores the idea and relevance of ‘thinking doing’ by theoretically investigating the conceptualisations of action in the contemporary political-theoretical development that is here called the politicisation of thoughtless action. Examples are selected from three areas: theorising everyday racism, individual accountability for global environmental harm, and gender performativity. The analysis revolves around the apparent difficulty of talking about such thoughtless action in its politicised form. It is argued that ‘thinking doing’ is a significant meta-methodological tool for maintaining the conceptual flexibility to register emerging forms of political action while at the same time satisfying requirements of conceptual consistency—a balancing skill essential for the scholar aspiring to theorise her contemporary context.

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