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Power to the People: Agents' Role in and Responsibility for Domination

McHugh, Hannah Victoria; (2024) Power to the People: Agents' Role in and Responsibility for Domination. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Domination is a kind of power - social power - that is, power over other people. Power emanates from a variety of relationships and structures, be they political institutions, economic systems, social lives or personal or professional relationships (to name but a few). The central republican task is to specify the necessary conditions for the realisation of freedom as non-domination. Republicans approach this task by arguing how to render power non-arbitrary. This has tended towards a republican emphasis on political freedom and the public sphere. Republicanism has been said to stand in an uneasy relationship to forms of economic or social domination, which persist often outside of formal political conditions of non-domination. This uneasy relationship arises because of a republican attachment to the understanding of domination as a relationship between agents – as opposed to domination by a structure such as, say, capitalism, racism, or a particular class. This thesis analyses how domination occurs between agents coordinated in structures of crucial importance to our modern lives, including pharmaceutical and financial markets and social media platforms. Centralising agents has a significant pay-off: it becomes possible to attribute responsibility to specific agents and behaviours, opening up the possibility of transforming domination into non-domination through regulation and social action. This thesis argues for a structurally-sensitive theory of responsibility that regards the agential-social processes which produce and reproduce domination. In particular, I offer an ameliorated approach to practices of blaming and praising in contexts of structural domination. This account offers practical guidance for some of the most challenging cases: such as responsibility for microaggressions, and responsibility in evolving and developing normative contexts. My hope is that this is a crucial step towards equipping theorists and non-theorists alike with practical philosophical insights as to how to respond to the most pressing cases of present injustice.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Power to the People: Agents' Role in and Responsibility for Domination
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2024. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10186887
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