A recognitive theory of identity and the structuring of public space

Carpenter, Benjamin (2020) A recognitive theory of identity and the structuring of public space. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis presents a theory of the self as produced through processes of recognition that unfold and are conditioned by public, political spaces. My account stresses the dynamic and continuous processes of identity formation, understanding the self as continually composed through intersubjective processes of recognition that unfold within and are conditioned by the public spaces wherein subjects appear before one another. My theory of the self informs a critique of contemporary identity politics, understanding the justice sought by such politics as hampered by identity enclosure. In contrast to my understanding of the self, the self of identity enclosure is understood as a series of connecting, philosophical pathologies that replicate conditions of oppression through their ontological, epistemological, and phenomenological positions on the self and political space. The politics of enclosure hinge upon a presumptive fixity, understanding the self as abstracted from political spaces of appearance, as a factic entity that is simply given once and for all. Beginning with Hegel's account of identity as recognised, I stress the phenomenological dimensions of recognition, using these to demonstrate how recognition requires a fundamental break from the fixity and rigidity often displayed within the politics of enclosure. I further defend my account of recognition against several overarching critiques of the recognitive tradition, as postulated by Foucault, Oliver, and Markell – a defence which requires a break with these preceding traditions in exchange for a far clearer spatial and phenomenological grounding acquired through a turn towards the work of Hannah Arendt. This turn develops into an examination as to how political spaces condition processes of recognition through producing variable conditions of visibility, dynamics I explore through the works of Arendt, Ahmed, and Gramsci. Given that the politics of enclosure find striking f0rms of expression in social media fora, my final chapter provides a critique of these fora as spaces of appearance. Contra to techno-optimist accounts of social media technologies as de facto sources of popular, democratic empowerment, I contend that the pathologies of identity enclosure find a particularly intense expression within online spaces. I show that the praxeis of mainstream identity politics are severely hampered by these pathologies, and I argue that a praxis informed by a recognitive theory of the self would be better placed to achieve the transformative projects of these politics – particularly with respect to their underlying ethical motivations.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
Depositing User: Nicola Veasy
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2021 09:21
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2021 09:21
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/80330


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