Listen to Owen Bennett-Jones discuss the future of opinion polls with Mark Pack

Mark Devenney

Feb 21, 2022

Towards an Improper Politics

Edinburgh University Press 2020

Historically, discourses of racial, civilizational, and sexual difference have inevitably been entangled with, shaped by, and constitutive of institutions that divide up the land and allocate rights of access and use. Yet, traditionally, political theorists and social scientists have thought of property as an exclusively economic category, and of property rights as institutions that reflect a deeper ‘objective’ balance of power between class forces. This economistic understanding of property has not only served to erase the racialized, colonial, and gendered foundations of capitalism, but it has also led contemporary political and social theorists interested in identity and new social movements to abandon the critique of property.

In his recent book Towards an Improper Politics (Edinburgh University Press, 2020), my guest Mark Devenney argues that “property belies any crude distinction between the economic and the political.” Instead, he emphasizes that political orders always link the ability to appropriate land, labor, and commodities with discourses that delimit proper modes of being. He argues for an ‘improper’ politics that challenges both the distribution of property and the norms of propriety that serve to justify inequality.

Mark Devenney is a professor at the University of Brighton.

Listen to more episodes on:

Your Host

Geoffrey Gordon

Geoffrey Gordon is a PhD candidate in comparative politics at the University of Virginia. Follow him on Twitter: @geofflgordon.
Learn More

Also Hosted By Geoffrey Gordon