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postgraduate thesis: Individuals in the political : a study on Hanna Pitkin's theory of political action

TitleIndividuals in the political : a study on Hanna Pitkin's theory of political action
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Chiu, Y
Issue Date2018
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Feng, Y. [馮雨地]. (2018). Individuals in the political : a study on Hanna Pitkin's theory of political action. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.
AbstractHanna Pitkin is concerned with a pervasive sense of apathy towards political life that marks the modern society and wants to call people back to public life. This thesis conducts a critique of her theory of political action. It points out an ambiguity inherent in Pitkin’s theory, explains reasons for that ambiguity, and makes suggestions on how her concerns can be approached without evoking the same ambiguity. I argue that while Pitkin has an idealistic normative model of political action that she wants to call people back to, she makes implications that pronounce such a model impossible. On one hand, she defines politics as a collective decision-making process among autonomous citizens on their shared fate. On the other hand, she claims that the only way for people to see their responsibility for and capacity of that kind of political action is to have genuine political experience of making decisions for the community together with their peers. Such a claim, I argue, seems to pronounce political action impossible for animal laborans who, in Pitkin’s description, either do not have access to such political experience or do not see feasibility of it because of a fatalist perspective they hold towards their life and the world. I explain that there are two reasons for which Pitkin formulates her theory in such an ambiguous way. First, peaceful collective deliberation with one’s fellow citizens is important for her because she believes it is the only way in which people can understand their capacity of political action with recognition of their inevitable ties to the community, and only with such a recognition can they continually create and recreate unity out of ineradicably plurality inherent in human society. Second, I argue that because Pitkin assumes a living memory of democracy embedded in the societies she theorizes for, she believes that without facilitating institutions and depositions already in place, people are still able to spontaneously take action when such memory is rediscovered. I suggest two ways to rescue animal laborans from their frustration with political action without evoking the tension inherent in Pitkin’s theory, especially for those living in societies with a living memory of democracy. Both suggestions emphasize the value of the private world. First, I suggest that we see private world as a hiding place where people are protected from the overwhelming power of the market and the public opinion. Second, I argue that because our ideas are created and recreated in everyday speech, we can change views on political efficacy and responsibility of ourselves and our interlocutors by changing our ordinary speech, and in this way help to transform animal laborans into autonomous and responsible citizens.
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
SubjectPhilosophy - Political science
Dept/ProgramPolitics and Public Administration
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/255438

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorChiu, Y-
dc.contributor.authorFeng, Yudi-
dc.contributor.author馮雨地-
dc.date.accessioned2018-07-05T07:43:33Z-
dc.date.available2018-07-05T07:43:33Z-
dc.date.issued2018-
dc.identifier.citationFeng, Y. [馮雨地]. (2018). Individuals in the political : a study on Hanna Pitkin's theory of political action. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/255438-
dc.description.abstractHanna Pitkin is concerned with a pervasive sense of apathy towards political life that marks the modern society and wants to call people back to public life. This thesis conducts a critique of her theory of political action. It points out an ambiguity inherent in Pitkin’s theory, explains reasons for that ambiguity, and makes suggestions on how her concerns can be approached without evoking the same ambiguity. I argue that while Pitkin has an idealistic normative model of political action that she wants to call people back to, she makes implications that pronounce such a model impossible. On one hand, she defines politics as a collective decision-making process among autonomous citizens on their shared fate. On the other hand, she claims that the only way for people to see their responsibility for and capacity of that kind of political action is to have genuine political experience of making decisions for the community together with their peers. Such a claim, I argue, seems to pronounce political action impossible for animal laborans who, in Pitkin’s description, either do not have access to such political experience or do not see feasibility of it because of a fatalist perspective they hold towards their life and the world. I explain that there are two reasons for which Pitkin formulates her theory in such an ambiguous way. First, peaceful collective deliberation with one’s fellow citizens is important for her because she believes it is the only way in which people can understand their capacity of political action with recognition of their inevitable ties to the community, and only with such a recognition can they continually create and recreate unity out of ineradicably plurality inherent in human society. Second, I argue that because Pitkin assumes a living memory of democracy embedded in the societies she theorizes for, she believes that without facilitating institutions and depositions already in place, people are still able to spontaneously take action when such memory is rediscovered. I suggest two ways to rescue animal laborans from their frustration with political action without evoking the tension inherent in Pitkin’s theory, especially for those living in societies with a living memory of democracy. Both suggestions emphasize the value of the private world. First, I suggest that we see private world as a hiding place where people are protected from the overwhelming power of the market and the public opinion. Second, I argue that because our ideas are created and recreated in everyday speech, we can change views on political efficacy and responsibility of ourselves and our interlocutors by changing our ordinary speech, and in this way help to transform animal laborans into autonomous and responsible citizens. -
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.-
dc.subject.lcshPhilosophy - Political science-
dc.titleIndividuals in the political : a study on Hanna Pitkin's theory of political action-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplinePolitics and Public Administration-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.date.hkucongregation2018-
dc.identifier.mmsid991044019382003414-

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