Mobilizing ‘the Alternativist’: Exploring the Management of Subjectivity in a Radical Political Party

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Abstract

Recently, a new wave of predominantly left-wing political parties has emerged across Europe. These parties seek to challenge the hegemony of dominant discourses by introducing novel procedures for active participation, democratic deliberation, and bottom-up decision-making. One particle in this wave is The Alternative, a newly elected party in Denmark. In keeping with the spirit of bottom-up decision-making, The Alternative’s entire political program has been developed through a series of publicly accessible workshops. Initially, this highly inclusive approach provided The Alternative with important momentum, but made it equally difficult for the party to particularize its political project without simultaneously losing support. The Alternative thus needed to find ways of maintaining a universal appeal while going through a process of particularization. In this paper, I will explore how this ‘problem of particularization’ is resolved (or at least postponed) within The Alternative through the management of subjectivity. Drawing on both documents and interviews, I argue that the party sustains its universal appeal through the ongoing mobilization of a collective subject called ‘A New We’ and an individual subject called ‘the Alternativist’. While the former is described as a boundless collective open to anyone, the latter is characterized as a person who is inclusive, attentive, open-minded, curious, and selfless – but also incapable of demarcating the party in terms of political representation. Ultimately, this allows The Alternative’s project to grow particular without losing its universal appeal.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEphemera: Theory & politics in organization
Volume18
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)737-765
Number of pages29
ISSN1473-2866
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • Radical politics
  • Political parties
  • Management technologies
  • Subjectification
  • Identity work
  • Overdetermination
  • Ernesto Laclau

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