The politics of nondomination: Populism, contestation and neorepublican democracy

Liam Farrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article is concerned with the antagonistic character of democratic politics, specifically in relation to the neo-republican conceptualisation of politics, as outlined by Philip Pettit. I take up a problem not addressed in the neo-republican scholarship, namely, the broader dispute over the practice of contestation and the scope of its reach in relation to the activity of politics. This article proceeds through an examination of what I call Pettit’s method of political theory in order to approach sideways the concept of ‘contestation’ as a marker for a sublimated antagonistic dimension of neo-republican politics. Drawing on the work of Ranci`ere and the insights of post-Nietzschean critical theory (Derrida, Laclau and Arendt), I examine the relationship between populism, democratic contestation and non-domination in neo-republican discourse. As such, this article exerts pressure on Pettit’s privileging of a status concept of freedom as the supreme political ideal of republican politics. This article explores the political possibilities opened up through a re-politicisation of non-domination, and the radical potential that resides in a politics that does not foreclose on democracy, understood in terms of popular power and not popular control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)858-877
Number of pages19
JournalPhilosophy & Social Criticism
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article: The project is funded by the Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postgraduate Research Scholarship, project number GOIPG/2016/180.


  • populism
  • radical democracy
  • non-domination
  • antagonism
  • neo-republicanism
  • political community


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