Original Research - Special Collection: Symposium Social Cohesion

The ‘political society’ of the governed? Marginalia beyond ‘marginalisation’

Ulrike Kistner
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 70, No 1 | a2618 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2618 | © 2014 Ulrike Kistner | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 January 2014 | Published: 20 November 2014

About the author(s)

Ulrike Kistner, Department of Philosophy, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Between the sphere of civil society associated with the idea of active, democratic citizenship, and the governance of precariously living populations ‘in most of the world’ (i.e. not simply ‘in the margins’), lies the domain, famously outlined by Partha Chatterjee, of ‘the political society of the governed’. This article investigates the concept of ‘the political society of the governed’, starting with its current definition, social and political contexts and a conceptual history. The article then proceeds to problematise the corollary of a bio-political ‘governmentality from below’, theoretically questioning the extent of its capacity to inform political agency, and practically examining the forms of such political agency, with special reference to studies on insurgent citizenship in South Africa.


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