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Free Admission

Thomas Field Workshop

2 February 2017 5:00 pm - 2 February 2017 7:00 pm

2016 was a year of political contestation, in which the word ‘democracy’ was used to defend Brexit and then to counter Brexit, to both support Trump and plead for Clinton. Can all of these uses of the term be appropriate? Surely not; there seems to be a problem with the concept, a theme that the philosopher Thomas Field explores in this workshop.

Field asks if the fact of holding an election proves that we have a democratic political culture. Or was Jean-Jacques Rousseau right to critique the association between governments of the vote and freedom? Field reminds us that there is a long-standing critique of democracy – culminating in the anarchistic May ’68 slogan ‘Elections, a trap for idiots’ – that needs to be considered.

So . . . what could ‘democracy’ mean, Field asks? Can it still lay claim to an emancipatory vocation? And what about the role of the media (long validated as the fourth estate of government and essential to a working democracy)? Could it rather be that the mediation of politics is counter-democratic? And if so, then how might we create an emancipatory culture, particularly in the realm of the media?


Thomas Field is a Middlesbrough-based philosopher. His publications include The Media against Democracy (Zero Books, 2015).

The workshop will be held in our auditorium.

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