Laurent Thévenot

Putting forms of authority and of power to the test of critique. The oppression exerted by governing through the objective

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: engagement, power, critique, objectivity, authority

This article explores the new forms of oppression emerging in Western societies from the centrality recognized in public policies to «the objective» and the difficulties social criticism is confronted with in detecting and denouncing these new ways of subjugation. The predominance of the objective should be intended both in terms of the growing number of policy measures expressed in terms of measurable goals and of the quest for objectivity in policy evaluation. Objectivity is meant to assure transparency and horizontality in social life, as opposed to the verticality of hierarchal subordination. The analysis of how «governing through the objective», far from prompting horizontality, engenders new oppressions is based on a sociological approach which investigates power in its relation to different forms for guaranteeing coordination. «Regimes of engagement» and «grammars of commonality in the plural» (included the one conferring authority to the autonomous individual) are the main pillars structuring this analytical frame (part 1). The historical investigation of the denunciations of authority as oppressive raised during the last fifty years by social criticism shows how legitimate authority has been redefined emphasizing the worth of horizontal social relations (part 2). In the last section, the author argues that governing through the objective entails a reduction of normative complexity and dynamicity which jeopardizes social criticism (part 3).

Trova nel catalogo di Worldcat

Article first page

Article first page