Anti-Equivalence: Pragmatics of post-liberal dispute

Davies, Will. 2021. Anti-Equivalence: Pragmatics of post-liberal dispute. European Journal of Social Theory, 24(1), pp. 44-64. ISSN 1368-4310 [Article]

Davies, W. (2020) Anti-Equivalence_AAM.pdf - Accepted Version
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Abstract or Description

In the early 21st century, liberal democracies have witnessed their foundational norms of critique and deliberation being disrupted by a combination of populist and technological forces. A distinctive style of dispute has appeared, in which a speaker denounces the unfairness of all liberal and institutional systems of equivalence, including the measures of law, economics and the various other ‘tests’ which convention scholars have deemed core to organisations. The article reviews how sociologists of critique have tended to treat critical capacities as oriented towards consensus, but then considers how technologies of real-time ‘control’ circumvent liberal critique altogether. In response, a different type of dispute emerges in the digital public sphere, which abandons equivalences in general, instead adopting a non-representational template of warfare. This style of post-liberal dispute is manifest in the rhetoric of populists, but does not originate there.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Disputes, liberalism, public sphere, control, populism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Politics > Political Economy Research Centre


3 July 2020Accepted
17 August 2020Published Online
1 February 2021Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

03 Jul 2020 15:32

Last Modified:

09 Jun 2021 16:07

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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