Social Science and Public Policy

Richard Freeman

Political Work

What do people do when they are 'doing politics'? What does politics consist of? What is 'political work' and how is it done? This course seeks to explore the microsociology of the political process, drawing on a range of perspectives from different disciplines.

The course is organized in three sections, with varying emphases. A first section focuses on what we might take core activities of engagement or activism, representation and administration in turn. It establishes a sense of politics as 'people doing things', as something carried on between 'men and women with first and last names'. It takes the boundaries of politics to be those not of the territory, but of the room and the street; it begins to study politics from the inside out. The second section is based on the recognition that political life is essentially word-based, and turns on talk in meetings and on the production and circulation of documents and texts. A third section, in turn, explores its irreducible materiality, investigating the way politics is embedded in artefacts and instuments, machines and technologies, buildings, spaces and human bodies.

The course is designed for students on MA (Hons) programmes in Social and Political Science, and will normally be taken by students in their third year of study.
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