After the riot? Rancière, Hamilton, and radical politics
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In recent years, political forces from the Occupy movement in North America to the #FeesMustFall student protest in South Africa have attempted to disrupt the political order in the name of democratic equality. Inspired by radical theorists like Rancière, this politics promises a model of social change through the combination of the disruption of institutions and the reinvention of daily life and political subjectivities. I argue that this radical politics comes with significant limits if it ignores the requirement to build more inclusive policies and new institutions too. This is because disruption alone may extend exclusion by prompting more elite coercion and popular backlash. This claim is illustrated through the example of the #FeesMustFall movement. What is needed instead is a radical politics that also includes a clear theoretical focus on policy and institutional change, such as is contained in Hamilton’s account of freedom as power through representation.