Politics, Anti-Politics & Civil Society
from 05:30 PM to 06:30 PM
Professor Carlo Ruzza
Professor of Political Sociology
In this presentation I will argue that civil society has come to represent a new ‘grand narrative’ which is used by all political forces, and notably by the right, as an alternative channel of political representation which in part substitutes and in part integrates a discredited electoral process. Catering to mounting anti-political and anti-state sentiments, an ideological emphasis on civil society is also an idealised alternative channel for service delivery in key policy sectors. Idealising these features has enabled different formations of the right to claim ideological cohesion. However, on the basis of an empirical examination of the electoral texts of the Italian centre-right, the paper argues that different kinds of right conceive civil society in different ways, variously stressing its anti-state and anti-political features, its contribution to a reconstruction and enhancement of an idealised national public sphere, and its local-community integrative functions. Broader conclusions are drawn for the European right in general, and for changes in conceptions of political representation.