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How to Prepare your Essay:

Please choose one of the following questions:

  • Do we live in post-democratic times?
  • Is there an alternative to capitalism? Or does capitalism co-opt all critique?
  • What binds radical democracy together (if anything)?
  • Critically evaluate Laclau and Mouffe’s version of radical democracy.
  • Marxism or Post-Marxism? Discuss with reference to contemporary debates in radical democracy.
  • Is psychoanalysis useful for politics?
  • What forms does direct democracy take today? Focus on one type of direct democracy and discuss its relation with the project for radical democracy.
  • Are social movements radical? If yes, in what ways?
  • Is Mouffe right to suggest that democracy needs to be radicalised?
  • Is ‘agonistic respect’ useful to negotiating contemporary conflicts?
  • Does agonistic theory offer a convincing answer to today’s dilemmas? If not, what do you think is missing from agonism?
  • Does populism revive or undermine democracy?
  • What does the rise of populist discourses reveal about the state of contemporary politics? In your answer focus on one example of populism.
  • Can left-wing populism revive social democracy?
  • Is political change as momentary as Wolin suggests?
  • What is radical about local politics (if anything)? In your answer focus on one type of localism.
  • Communism or Democracy?
  • Is communism the answer to the problem of economic inequality?
  • Critically evaluate Mignolo’s decolonial critique of democracy.

The essay is designed to test your research, analytical and critical skills. It expects your to demonstrate appropriate levels of competence and independence in exploring and evaluating key challenges to contemporary socio-political practice; to compare, contrast and evaluate different theoretical accounts and their application to different contexts; and to critically evaluate processes and dynamics of socio-political change and renewal.

The essay should demonstrate that you have understood the issue(s) you are addressing, made yourself familiar with the appropriate literature and demonstrated the ability both to assess the different arguments and to formulate a critical analysis comprising a coherent rationale in support of your position. In marking the essay I will consider: a) the quality of the content – the breadth and depth of analysis – and the quality of the critical comment; b) the structure – the logical development and coherence of the argument; c) the range of literature used in making the argument; and d) the presentation and layout – including the competence with which sources are used.

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