Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL2079: Contemporary Public Debate in an Age of 'Anti-Politics'

This module descriptor refers to the 2019/0 academic year.


NQF Level 5
Credits 15 ECTS Value 7.5
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Bice Maiguashca (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


Political commentators and academics have noted growing disinterest and even antipathy towards mainstream politics today. For some this is part of a crisis of democratic representation and widespread discontentment with established parties and elites. Others point to the ‘stylisation’ or ‘mediatisation’ of the political, the simplification of political discourse and the sound bite solutions that go along with it. Still others suggest that democratic political debate has given way to a stifling consensus politics that never treads far from the centre. This module reflects on this political state of affairs by focusing on the ways in which knowledge (or what passes for knowledge) about politics is constructed, articulated, reproduced and justified in the public sphere. Who are the key knowledge producers of today (the media? politicians? economists? scientific experts? we the public?)? How are claims to truth and/or ‘facts’ constructed and presented? Why do certain claims gain traction while others don’t? What can we do, if anything, to resist prevailing political narratives we find problematic/dangerous/frustrating either because they are unjustifiable, epistemologically, or because we have normative concerns about their political consequences? To help answer such questions in the first part of the course you will explore theories of contemporary politics and democracy, including different approaches to thinking about knowledge and the public sphere. In the  second part of the course you will engage withcase studies such as the recent debates about the private vs. public sector, the role of Islam in galvanising terror, the putative abuse of the welfare system, debates about the need for action on climate change and the rights and wrongs of gay marriage, to name a few.

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