In this article, I address the ways in which debates in liberal, (post)Marxist and postmodernist social theory have remoulded readings of emancipation – and how these reformulations have affected the organisation of emancipatory struggles by and in political parties and social movements. I focus on three conceptual ambiguities that have spurred theoretical disputes and restructured organisational imaginations of emancipation: who might struggle for liberation, to what end and in which ways. In all three respects, understandings of emancipation have become increasingly individualised, contingent and process-oriented – both in theory and in its political-organisational correspondents. As a consequence, effective collective struggles for autonomy may become ever more difficult to organise. While occurring in the name of further liberation, the ongoing reinterpretation of emancipation and its impact on the political organisation of emancipatory struggles might in the end hamper or even undermine the very liberation and autonomy they had aimed to promote.
Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)
- 506014 Comparative politics
- 504001 General sociology