Deconstructing political protest
Abstract: Part I of the thesis Deconstructing Political Protest is an introduction to the theoretical, epistemological and (anti)ontological approach guiding the analysis in the articles comprising Part II. Investigations into the ideological organisation of political protests are the focus in all four articles. The questions asked concern what makes some subjects or political gestures tolerable and legitimate and others less so. Answering this type of questions involves deconstructing the political processes where the modes and subjects of protest are conditioned. The ideological organisation of protest is here identified as a result of power struggles. Ideology is here a closure of the social, i.e. the non-acknowledgement of the instability of how our world is organised. The four articles accordingly investigate the openings and aporias in discourses on political protest, and the struggle between hegemony and its unmaking, rather than search for a hermeneutic whole.An occupation, a demonstration and a referendum serve as examples when deconstructing discourses organising political protests. What these three events have in common is how the “laws” regulating political protests are broken, yet it is exactly when the laws are broken that they appear as an independent structure. The illegal occupation is additionally breaking the law regulating political protest by appearing innocous in the hegemonic discourse. Activists occupying an operation ward are in this example not condemned as criminals but are instead respected as an anomaly deviating from regular problematic occupants. Similarly street demonstrations in the second example relate to a violent outside deviating from the normal peaceful demonstration, but in this example the outside violence blends into the identity of all activist through various metaphors. The third example examines how a referendum, formally a well-respected mode of protest, can still be questioned in a hegemonic discourse.The events studied challenge the notion of what constitutes reasonable political activity, but simultaneously maintain the meaning of, and become the condition of possibility for, the acceptable and unacceptable political protest since the laws regulationg political protest are determined by their transgressions.
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