Colonization of the normative realm in the age of instrumentality

Casagranda, Roy Edward
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This dissertation aims to establish a contemporary model of why apolitical actors engage in the political realm. The project will intersperse practical cases with theoretical concerns. I look at two cases: the role of Soccer Hooligans in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and the Occupy Austin Movement (2015). The goal of these juxtapositions is to provide insights into the realities behind political theories, as I accommodate additional strands of theory that have received little attention to date in studies of political motivation. I begin by showing how inadequate Rational Choice Theory (RCT) has proven in explaining political action and then move onto employing central concepts from Heidegger, Arendt, Marcuse, Foucault, Habermas, and Wendy Brown to create a richer picture of what choice means for subjects. With the aid of the categories these thinkers provide, I then build an analytical heuristic device called the Three Realms of Action Model. My claim is that this model, which explains the relationship between the normative, political and economic realms can better explain political choice. The actions of nonpolitical actors might seem non-rational when viewed from within a purely economic realm, but switching between the three realms and the rationalites they inhabit, provides the three-pronged lens needed to make a more nuanced study of the power relations between political actors. To better illustrate how subjects negotiate the realms, I use familiar historical sites. Each historical event allows us to inhabit an epistemology that describes how the realms bargain for dominance with each other. The insight I come away with here is that the economic realm has colonized the normative and political realms in the United States. But despite the dominance of the economic realm, political action or choice is not driven “only” by market rationality but also by a shifting play of the power in the three realms where we see new and competing rationalities. This allows us not only to see “choice” as a more dynamic and nuanced category but also better clues us into how it is manipulated and even subverted.