CfP: Edited volume ‘The Politics of Politicians’

Call for Book Chapters
“Activists as Agenda-setting Politicians”

Since the 1960s a new type of political activism has emerged in Europe. Activists generally present reasonable political principles in contrast with what they perceive as unreasonable politics and politicians. They are, to some degree, suspicious towards parliamentary politics, its procedures and rhetorical qualities. Yet although recognising their own action as political, or even more truly political than some longstanding parliamentary practices, activists do not frequently regard themselves as politicians. Their views are partly connected to ideals of direct democracy, from non-partisan council models to Swiss type of semi-plebiscitarian regime. Radical forms of protest politics, such as blockades and occupations of sites, contain anti-parliamentary elements.

This chapter explores an interesting conundrum: even if instances of political activism can be regarded as anti-party and anti-parliamentary political forces, they have decisively contributed to setting the parliamentary agenda. Lately even ‘mainstream’ political parties have come to recognise their value for parliamentary agenda-setting. Moreover, activists’ performances shape the public imagination about politicians and their roles, i.e. who they are and what they do. While some groups and/or individuals continue to distance themselves from professional politicians, it is also the case that former activists come to describe themselves as politicians. In this regard, intra- and extra-parliamentary discourses and rhetorical strategies will be on focus. The topic is to be explored using a country-based comparative approach and can flexibly address different kinds of political activism. Chapters can be authored individually or jointly with other scholar(s).

The chapter is part of a work-in-progress book proposal titled The Politics of Politicians: Historical Debates on the Self-understanding of Politicians in Europe, edited by Kari Palonen, Pasi Ihalainen, Rosario López, and Henk te Velde. The proposed anthology will focus on the self-understandings of European parliamentarians as politicians since the eighteenth century and on the explicit or implicit visions of politics included in such self-understandings. The book is a collaborative project which will develop in a series of scheduled meetings and academic events.

Please, send expressions of interest to Rosario López (rosariols@uma.es) before 18 June.

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