Interpreting Self-interpretations within a Logics Approach: Being Critical and Promoting Agonistic Respect?

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A recurrent question in my research is what empty signifiers are doing in the scientific field (SF), how this might be an opportunity or a problem, and to whom. If the goal of the SF is production of scientific knowledge, there is a need for concepts, i.e. signifiers need attachment to signifieds for the logic of difference to prevail. My analyses focus on how calls for interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity and Mode-2 research may have mobilised changes in the field, and within the framework of the logics approach (Glynos and Howarth, 2007) I aim to work out what is going on by analyzing the interplay between the logics of equivalence and difference. Weingart (2000:25) notes how at the end of the 1960s and into the 1970s, 'interdisciplinarity' and derivatives such as 'pluridisciplinarity' or 'transdisciplinarity' were "traded as panaceas of higher education reform." Thus, inter- and transdisciplinarity present themselves as the embodiment of fullness to fill the gap opened by a dislocated structure of the traditional disciplinary system (Laclau 1990:50). I examine how ID, TD (and Mode-2) constitute a fantasmatic narrative in which, according to Glynos and Howarth (2007:150) "an internal obstacle (or ‘enemy within’) is deemed responsible for the blockage of identity, while promising a fullness or harmony to come". I lump the signifiers ID, TD and Mode-2 together because they share the same antagonism, namely disciplinarity as "the enemy", which is excluded according to the logic of equivalence - and is what enables the function of the signifiers as empty. Fantasmatic logics are an important starting point for the analyst to detect particular narratives that provide ideological closure for the subject (Howarth 2010). Thus, identifying ideological closure is an important step in constructing a critical explanation to examine how the SF can make the logic of equivalence operate to its advantage by eventually disarticulating and mapping equivalential constructions onto traditional meaning patterns (Marchart 2018:126), i.e. disciplines. However, by exposing ideological closure in my empirical material I may face a dilemma because I straddle different interpretive communities, i.e. science studies and post structuralist discourse theory. The logics approach is predicated on the ultimate contingency of social relations (Glynos & Howarth 2007:154) and deploying political logics to the fantasmatic narrative shows that the exclusion of disciplinarity conceals the contingency of disciplinary hegemony, which - adhering to the premises of the logics approach - should be considered an outcome of previous hegemonic articulations, and as such it does not challenge the original institution of the SF. Thereby, the fantasmatic narrative also fails to recognize the historicity of the field. It is on this background that I interpret the self-interpretations gleaned from the literature of the field. I need to base my practice of critical explanation on the field's literature that acknowledges the contingency of social relations. But how to develop an ethos of agonistic respect in grappling with the self-interpretations that ignore contingency?
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2021
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event13th Interpretive Policy Analysis Conference. IPA 2021 - , WWW
Duration: 28 Jun 20212 Jul 2021
Conference number: 13


Conference13th Interpretive Policy Analysis Conference. IPA 2021
Internet address

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