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Thinking ‘Emancipation’ after Marx: A Conceptual Analysis of Emancipation between Citizenship and Revolution in Marx and Balibar

Bromberg, Svenja. 2017. Thinking ‘Emancipation’ after Marx: A Conceptual Analysis of Emancipation between Citizenship and Revolution in Marx and Balibar. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

In light of an increasing embrace of the notion of ‘emancipation’ by various theoretical and
political perspectives in recent years, this thesis aims to scrutinise the philosophical
connotations of the concept itself. It therefore returns to Karl Marx’s distinction between
political and human emancipation, developed in his text ‘On the Jewish Question’, with the aim of
excavating its theoretical stakes. The core argument of the first part is that Marx draws a line of
demarcation between citizenship as the modern form of political, bourgeois emancipation realised by
the American and French Revolutions, and human emancipation as necessitating a different kind of
revolution that would allow for the constitution of a new type of social bond between the
individual and the social. Marx’s formulation of the need for human emancipation is grounded in his
critique of political emancipation, which he regards as failing to recognise the dialectical
constitution of its social bond by both political and economic relations. The bourgeois social bond
moreover makes ‘man’ exist as an individualised being who can only relate to his or her political
existence and dependency on others in a mediated and abstract way. The second part turns to the
post-Marxist critiques of ‘On the Jewish Question’, starting in the late 1970s with Claude Lefort,
which coincide with a broader re-evaluation of the revolutionary legacy in France. It specifically
interrogates Étienne Balibar’s alternative understanding of the form of emancipation achieved by
the French Revolution under the name of ‘equaliberty’, with which he defends the struggle for
citizenship as the unsurpassable horizon of a contemporary politics of emancipation. The aim is
here to develop a deeper understanding of Balibar’s criticism of Marx’s dividing line, which allows the French thinker's contribution to 'thinking emancipation after Marx' to be disentangled from his decision to distance himself from the Marxian approach.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00020170

Keywords:

Emancipation, Marx, Balibar, Equaliberty, Citizenship, Political Theory

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology

Date:

31 March 2017

Item ID:

20170

Date Deposited:

06 Apr 2017 15:17

Last Modified:

01 Aug 2019 15:21

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/20170

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