New York: Routledge (2004)
Over the last thirty years, the work of the political theorist Ernesto Laclau has reinvigorated radical political and social theory. Taking concepts previously ignored or unused within mainstream political theory, such as the political, hegemony, discourse, identity, and representation, he has made them fundamental to thinking about politics and social theory. Resisting the dead end of postmodern politics, his work has drawn in stimulating ways on Gramscian, poststructuralist and psychoanalytic theory. Laclau: A Critical Reader is the first full-length critical appraisal of Laclau's work and includes contributions from several leading philosophers and theorists. The first section examines Laclau's theory that the contest between universalism and particularism provides much of the philosophical background to political and social struggle, taking up the important place accorded to, amongst others, Hegel and Lacan in Laclau's work. The second section of the book considers what Laclau's "radical democracy" might look like and reflects on its ethical implications, particularly in relation to Laclau's post-Marxism and thinkers such as Jurgen Habermas. The final section investigates the place of hegemony in Laclau's work, the idea for which he is perhaps best-known. This stimulating collection also includes replies to his critics by Laclau and the important exchange between Laclau and Judith Butler on equality, making it an excellent companion to Laclau's work and essential reading for students of political and social theory.