Power and Resistance: Perpetuating and Challenging Capitalist Exploitation

Contemporary Political Theory 6 (1):4-23 (2007)

Although oppressive social practices like capitalism are often portrayed as static, totalizing social 'structures' with 'logics' and 'imperatives' that must be accommodated politically and economically, such portrayals are problematic both theoretically and politically. They rest on determinist and essentialist conceptions of social practices, and they curtail the scope of politics, government regulation, and human action and creativity. Fortunately, social practices can instead be conceptualized as thoroughly social, historical, and contingent, and thus susceptible to political intervention and reworking, as many feminist, post-structuralist, and anti-economistic Marxian theorists do. Attempting to build on such alternative conceptualizations, I argue that Judith Butler's concept of reiteration provides a particularly useful, in-depth theorization of power, the mechanisms enabling social practices to endure and change, and the role of the individual and collectivities in perpetuating and challenging social practices such as capitalism. In so doing, the concept of reiteration offers a compelling and detailed non-voluntaristic account of human agency. Butler's work is thus helpful in theorizing and empirically investigating both the obstacles to and the possibilities for resisting exploitation and altering unjust social practices
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DOI 10.1057/palgrave.cpt.9300284
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Power Trouble: Performativity as Critical Theory.Amy Allen - 1998 - Constellations 5 (4):456-471.

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