Appeals to Interest: Language, Contestation, and the Shaping of Political Agency

Penn State Press, 2011 - 228 pages

It has become a commonplace assumption in modern political debate that white and rural working- and middle-class citizens in the United States who have been rallied by Republicans in the &“culture wars&” to vote Republican have been voting &“against their interests.&” But what, exactly, are these &“interests&” that these voters are supposed to have been voting against? It reveals a lot about the role of the notion of interest in political debate today to realize that these &“interests&” are taken for granted to be the narrowly self-regarding, primarily economic &“interests&” of the individual. Exposing and contesting this view of interests, Dean Mathiowetz finds in the language of interest an already potent critique of neoliberal political, theoretical, and methodological imperatives&—and shows how such a critique has long been active in the term&’s rich history. Through an innovative historical investigation of the language of interest, Mathiowetz shows that appeals to interest are always politically contestable claims about &“who&” somebody is&—and a provocation to action on behalf of that &“who.&” Appeals to Interest exposes the theoretical and political costs of our widespread denial of this crucial role of interest-talk in the constitution of political identity, in political theory and social science alike.

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À propos de l'auteur (2011)

Dean Mathiowetz is Associate Professor of Politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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