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    Play and democracy: Huizinga and the limits of agonism

    Edwards, Jason (2013) Play and democracy: Huizinga and the limits of agonism. Political Theory 41 (1), pp. 88-113. ISSN 0090-5917.

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    In this essay I argue that the work of the Dutch historian Johan Huizinga is an important resource for contemporary democratic theory because his employment of the concept of play illustrates both the strengths and weaknesses of agonistic thought. I employ a reading of Huizinga to explore three central problems of contemporary agonism: the distinction between antagonism and agonism; the representative or expressive character of the agon; and the shaping and limiting of the space of the agon by the materials with which we play democratic games. Reading Huizinga reveals the importance of a consideration of the social relations and material conditions that shape the playful features of democratic contestation. But it also warns against the idealization of democratic contestation and the contesting subject that occurs in contemporary agonistic thought as a result of privileging the autonomy and priority of play and extruding it from the wider economy of agonism.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Huizinga, play, agonism, democracy, culture, economy
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Contemporary Literature, Centre for, British Politics and Public Life, Centre for
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2013 08:22
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:08


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