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  • Author or Editor: Matthew Flinders x
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This article seeks to explore and emphasise the role of emotions as a key variable in terms of understanding both the rise of anti-political sentiment and its manifestation in forms of ethno-populism. It argues that the changing emotional landscape has generally been overlooked in analyses that seek to comprehend contemporary social and political change. This argument matters, not only due to the manner in which it challenges dominant interpretations of the populist signal but also because it poses more basic questions about the limits of knowledge and evidential claims in an increasingly polarised, fractious and emotive contemporary context. The core argument concerning the existence of an emotional disconnection and why ‘feelings trump facts’ is therefore as significant for social and political scientists as it is for politicians and policy makers.

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The relationship between social scientists and the broader social sphere is changing as greater pressure is placed on academics to demonstrate the social relevance and public impact of their research. This pressure is creating widespread concern – intellectual, professional and moral – about the direction of many disciplines and what can be done to thwart what some academics view as the ‘tyranny of relevance’. It is in exactly this context that this paper adopts an interdisciplinary approach in order to offer a more sophisticated and informed account of ‘the politics of engaged scholarship’.

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The relationship between social scientists and the broader social sphere is changing as greater pressure is placed on academics to demonstrate the social relevance and public impact of their research. This pressure is creating widespread concern – intellectual, professional and moral – about the direction of many disciplines and what can be done to thwart what some academics view as the ‘tyranny of relevance’. It is in exactly this context that this paper adopts an interdisciplinary approach in order to offer a more sophisticated and informed account of ‘the politics of engaged scholarship’.

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Depoliticisation refers to the narrowing of the boundaries of democratic politics. It is therefore intertwined with concerns about ‘the end of politics’ and the emergence of technocratic postdemocratic forms of governance. This article provides a broad theoretical and conceptual canvas upon which the various contributions to this special edition can be located and their interrelationships exposed. It achieves this by exploring the relevance of Carl Schmitt’s concept of ‘the political’, and particularly his analysis of ‘the age of neutralisations and depoliticisations’, to contemporary debates concerning depoliticisation, (re)politicisation and even hyper-depoliticisation.

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The concept of ‘governance’ denotes a shift in the distribution of power within and beyond modern democracies and state systems. At the heart of this shift lies a normative preference for disaggregating large bureaucratic state structures into smaller, more flexible, single-purpose organisational units. This process poses distinct questions regarding the capacity of elected politicians to control or coordinate this sphere of delegated governance. The central argument of this article is as simple as ABC (that is, agencies, boards and commissions): patronage is a critical political resource for elected politicians that should not automatically be derided as corrupt, unfair or nepotistic.

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This article returns to Christopher Hood’s influential work, The politics of quangocide, to examine the United Kingdom’s coalition government’s approach to public bodies reform since May 2010. It combines theoretical-innovation and fresh empirical research to argue that the coalition has not simply engaged in quangocide, but has adopted a dual-track strategy based upon ‘bureau-shuffling’ and a focus on strengthening internal control rather than outright abolition. This has significant international and comparative relevance due to the manner in which these findings resonate with broader ‘post New Public Management’ narratives of state restructuring.

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Stagnating political participation, the growth of delegated agencies and the prevalence of rationalistic-technocratic discourse all represent interlinking aspects of what can been termed ‘the depoliticised polity’. Existing research has overwhelmingly focused on institutional or governmental depoliticisation strategies and fails to acknowledge repoliticisation as a critical counter-trend. This article argues that these weaknesses can be addressed through ‘a three faces’ approach that embraces societal and discursive depoliticisation strategies as complementary statecraft dynamics that often underpin more tangible governmental strategies. By revealing the existence of multiple forms of depoliticisation this approach also offers new insights in terms of politicisation and sociopolitical change.

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Depoliticisation refers to the narrowing of the boundaries of democratic politics. It is therefore intertwined with concerns about ‘the end of politics’ and the emergence of technocratic post-democratic forms of governance. This chapter provides a broad theoretical and conceptual canvas upon which the various contributions to this special edition can be located and their interrelationships exposed. It achieves this by exploring the relevance of Carl Schmitt’s concept of ‘the political’, and particularly his analysis of ‘the age of neutralisations and depoliticisations’, to contemporary debates concerning depoliticisation, (re)politicisation and even hyper-depoliticisation.

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Stagnating political participation, the growth of delegated agencies and the prevalence of rationalistic-technocratic discourse all represent interlinking aspects of what can been termed ‘the depoliticised polity’. Existing research has overwhelmingly focused on institutional or governmental depoliticisation strategies and fails to acknowledge repoliticisation as a critical counter-trend. This chapter argues that these weaknesses can be addressed through ‘a three faces’ approach that embraces societal and discursive depoliticisation strategies as complementary statecraft dynamics that often underpin more tangible governmental strategies. By revealing the existence of multiple forms of depoliticisation this approach also offers new insights in terms of politicisation and socio-political change.

Full Access