The Concept of De-Politicization and Its Consequences


This Issue collects contributions on the theme of the De-Politicization of [representative] pol-itics in the era of neoliberalism. We consider De-politicization as a set of changes in the ways power is exer-cised. These modes downgrade the political nature of decision-making and, through representation, give legitimacy to actors apparently less able to bear witness to the presence of the "political". Politics appears less responsible for the decisions that affect the regulation of society and the impact of their costs and failures on economic and cultural processes. Political choices conditioned by the market acquire the charac-ter of necessity and inevitability. The attempts to legitimize the investigation of public choices through de-liberative arenas governed by non-political parameters, based on information and knowledge, are not ex-ternal to this aspect of de-politicization. A discursive de-politicization determines the convergence of pref-erences into a single, albeit diverse, cognitive construction of reality (frame for public actions). It is no coin-cidence that the prevailing paradigm in the contemporary liberal political economy has been narrated in the form of a "single thought" demonstrating a clear cultural hegemony of the trans-nationalized and financial-ized capitalism. Policies become inevitable responses lacking rational alternatives to the limits of develop-ment set by previous responses, with which contradictions and conflicts had previously been appeased. De-politicization is probably one of the causes of the growing distance between institutional politics and civil society in Western countries and, unavoidably, it determines certain consequences. We think that, on the social side, some of the consequences can be found in the political indifference on the part of citizens (po-litical apathy) and, by contrast, in growing forms of non-institutional social and political participation through the practices of social resilience and resistance; on the political side, we think that one of the con-sequences is the birth, everywhere in Europe, of populist parties and movements that, in their rhetoric, emphasize the intention to give back sovereignty to the people. The aim of this issue is to highlight these phenomena which, also in a critical, provocative way, can contribute to the description of the many aspects of this process through both theoretical and empirical work.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v10i2p340

Keywords: Depoliticization; Neoliberalism; Public Choices; Participation; Social Resilience


Burnham P. (1999), “The politics of economic management in the 1990s”, New Political Economy, 4, 1, pp. 37-54

Burnham P. (2001), “New Labour and the politics of depoliticization”, The British Journal of Politics & International Relations, 3, 2, pp. 127-49

Caggiano M., S. Paolo De Rosa (2015), “Social Economy as Antidote to Criminal Econo-my: How Social Cooperation is Reclaiming Commons in the Context of Campania’s En-vironmental Conflicts”., Partecipazione e conflitto, 8(2): 530-554.

Camps-Calvet M., J. Langemeyer, L. Calvet-Mir, E. Gómez-Baggethun, and H. March (2015), “Sowing Resilience and Contestation in Times of Crises: The Case of Urban Gardening Movements in Barcelona”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 8(2): 417-442.

Cangelosi E. (2015), “Reshaping Spaces and Relations: Urban Gardening in a Time of Cri-sis”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 8(2): 392-416.

Carabellese M. and Maurano S. (2013), Conflitti ambientali come spunti di democratizza-zione? Partecipazione e capitale sociale in Campania, in Burini F. (ed.), Partecipazione e governance territoriale. Dall'Europa all'Italia, Milano: FrancoAngeli.

Cattaneo C, S. Engel-Di Mauro (2015), “Urban Squats as Eco-Social Resistance to and Re-silience in the Face of Capitalist Relations: Case Studies from Barcelona and Rome”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 8(2): 343-366.

Cavatorto S., Ferreri A. (2015), “Governance economica europea in tempi di crisi e scelte di policy nazionali: l’austerità nel discorso parlamentare italiano”, in G. Moini (a cura di), Neoliberismi e azione pubblica: il caso italiano, Ediesse, Roma pp. 71-92

Crouch C. (2004), Post-Democracy, Cambridge, Polity Press.

Dey P, Steyaert C. (2010). “The politics of narrating social entrepreneurship”. Journal of Enterprising Communities. 4, 1, pp. 85-108

Fawcett, P., Marsh, D. (2014), “Depoliticisation, governance and political participation”, Policy&Politics , 42, 2, pp. 171–88

Flinders M., Buller J. (2006), “Depoliticization: Principles, Tactics and Tools”, British Poli-tics, 1, 3, pp. 293-318

Flinders M., Buller J. (2006b), “Depoliticization, democracy and arena shifting”, in T. Christensen a P. Lagraeid (a cura di), Autonomy and Regulation. Coping with agencies in the modern state, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp. 53-80

Flinders, M. (2008), Delegated Governance and the British State, Oxford, Oxford Universi-ty Press

Flinders, M., Wood, M. (2014), “Depoliticisation, governance and the state”, Poli-cy&Politics, 42, 2, pp. 135–49

Folke, C. (2006): Resilience. The emergence of a perspective for social-ecological sys-tems analysis. In: Global Environmental Change 16 (3), 253–267.

Folke, C.; Carpenter, S. R.; Walker, B.; Scheffer, M.; Chapin, T. and Rockström, J. (2010): Resilience thinking: integrating resilience, adaptability and transformability. In: Ecolo-gy and Society 15 (4), 20.

Foster E.A., Kerr P., Byrne C. (2014), “Rolling back to roll forward: depoliticisation and the extension of government”, Policy&Politics, 42, 2, pp. 225-41

Gunderson, L. H. and Holling, C. S. (eds.) (2002): Panarchy: understanding transfor-mations in human and natural systems. Washington, D.C.

Hall P.A., M. Lamont (2013, eds.), Social Resilience in the Neoliberal Era, New York, Cam-bridge University Press.

Hay C. (2007), Why We Hate Politics, The Policy Press, Cambridge

Hay C. (2014), “Depoliticisation as process, governance as practice: what did the ‘first wave’ get wrong and do we need a ‘second wave’ to put it right?”, Policy&Politics, 42, 2, pp. 293-311

Held D. (1998), “Democracy and Globalization”, in Archibugi D., D.

Held, and M. Kohler (eds.), Reimagining Political Community. Studies in Cosmopolitan Democracy, Cam-bridge, Polity Press, pp. 11-27.

Holling C.S. (2001): Understanding the complexity of economic, ecological, and social systems. In: Ecosystems 4, 390–405.

Holling, C. S. (1973): Resilience and stability of ecological systems. In: Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 4, 1–23.

Huggins A. (2015), “The Desirability of Depoliticization: Compliance in the International Climate Regime”, Transnational Environmental Law / Volume 4 / Issue 01 / aprile 2015, pp 101-124 (

Itçaina X., A. Gomez (2015), “Territorial Identity and Grassroots Economic Activism: The Politicization of Farmers’ Mobilizations in the French Basque Country”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 8(2): 478-503.

Jessop B. (1997), “A neo-Gramscian approach to the regulation of urban regimes”, in M. Lauria, (a cura di) , Reconstructing Urban Regime Theory, London, Sage, pp. 51-73

Jessop B. (2009), “Cultural Political Economy and Critical Policy Studies”, Critical Policy Studies, 3, 3-4, pp. 336-56

Jessop B. (2011) “Metagovernance”, in M. Bevir (a cura di), Handbook of Governance, Sage, London, pp. 106-123

Jessop, B. (2014), “Repoliticising depoliticisation: theoretical preliminaries on some re-sponses to the American fiscal and Eurozone debt crises”, Policy&Politics, 42, 2, pp. 207–23

Keck M., P. Sakdapolrak (2013), “What is Social resilience? Lessons Learned and Ways Forward”, Erdkunde, 67(1): 3-19.

Kettel, S. (2008), “Does Depoliticisation Work? Evidence from Britain’s Membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism, 1990–92”, The British Journal of Politics & Internation-al Relations, 10,(4), pp. 630-48

Lorenz, D. (2010): The diversity of resilience: contributions from a social science perspec-tive. In: Natural Hazards. DOI: 10.1007/s11069-010-9654-y.

Matten D., Moon J. (2013), “Corporate Citizenship: Introducing Business as an actor in political governance”, in D. Matten & J. Moon (a cura di), Corporate Citizenship. The In-ternational Library of Critical

Writings on Business and Management. Cheltenham (Ed-ward Elgar)

Moini G. (2015), “Capire il neoliberismo: variegatura, egemonia e (de)politicizzazione”, in G. Moini (a cura di), Neoliberismi e azione pubblica: il caso italiano, Ediesse, Roma, pp. 17-50

O’Brien, K.; Hayward, B. and Berkes, F. (2009): Rethinking social contracts: building resili-ence in a changing climate. In: Ecology and Society 14 (2), 12.

Obrist, B.; Pfeiffer, C. and Henley, R. (2010a): Multi-layered social resilience: a new ap-proach in mitigation research. In: Progress in Development Studies 10 (4), 283–293.

Oliveri F. (2015), “A Network of Resistances against a Multiple Crisis. SOS Rosarno and the Experimentation of Socio-Economic Alternative Models”, Partecipazione e conflit-to, 8(2): 504-529.

Peck J. e Tickell A. (2002), “Neoliberalizing space”, Antipode, 34, 3, pp. 380-404

Pelling, M. and Manuel-Navarrete, D. (2011): From resilience to transformation: the adaptive cycle in two Mexican urban centers. In: Ecology and Society 16 (2), 11.

Schmidt V.A, Thatcher M. (2014), “Why are neoliberal ideas so

resilient in Europe’s politi-cal economy?”, Critical Policy Studies, 8, 3, pp. 340-347

Sum N.L e Jessop B. (2013), Towards a Cultural Political Economy.

Putting Culture in its Place in Political Economy, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK - Northampton, MA, USA

Swyngedouw, E. (2007). “Impossible ‘Sustainability’ and the post-political condition”, in R. Krueger & D. Gibbs (a cura di), The sustainable development paradox. New York, Guilford Press

Voss, M. (2008): The vulnerable can’t speak. An integrative vulnerability approach to dis-aster and climate change research. In: Behemoth 1 (3), 39–56.

Walker, B. H. and Salt, D. (2006): Resilience thinking: sustaining ecosystems and people in a changing World. Washington, D.C.

Walker, B. H.; Holling, C. S.; Carpenter, S. R. and Kinzig, A. (2004):

Resilience, adaptability and transformability in social–ecological systems. In: Ecology and Society 9 (2), 5.

Whitfield D. (2012), “UK Social Services: The mutation of privatisation” (

Wilson J. e Swyngedouw E. (2014), “Seed of Dystopia: Post-Politics and the Return of the Political”, in The post-political and its discontents. Spaces of depoliticisation. Spectres of radical politics (a cura di J. Wilson e E. Swyngedouw), Edinburgh University press

Wood M. (2014) “Depoliticisation, Resilience and the Herceptin Post-code Lottery Crisis: Holding Back the Tide”, The British Journal of Politics & International Relations

Wood M. (2015), “Puzzling and powering in policy paradigm shifts: politicization, depolit-icization and social learning”, Critical Policy Studies, 9, 1, pp. 2-21

Wood, M., Flinders, M. (2014), “Rethinking Depoliticisation: Beyond the Governmental”, Policy and Politics, 42, 2, pp. 151–170.

Papers published in this Special Issue

Burnham P. (2017), “Neo-liberalism, Crisis and the Contradictions of Depoliticisation”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 10(2): 357-380.

d’Albergo E., G. Moini (2017), “Depoliticizing Public Action by Politicizing Issues, Practices and Actors. The Role of Resilience Thinking in a Program of the Cariplo Foundation”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 10(2): 381-420-

Busso S. (2017), “The De-Politicization of Social Policy at the Time of Social Investment. Mechanisms and Distinctive Features, Partecipazione e conflitto, 10(2): 421-447.

Willems T., W. Van Dooren, M. van den Hurk (2017), “PPP Policy, Depoliticisation, and Anti-Politics”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 10(2): 448-471.

Giannone D. (2017), “The Politics of Global Indicators in Designing, Promoting and Legit-imating the Competition State”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 10(2): 472-491.

Romano O. (2017), “The Impolitic Narrative of Grassroots Movements against Neoliberal De-Politicization. The Case of Commons”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 10(2): 493-516.

Padoan E. (2017), “The Populist Re-Politicization. Some Lessons from South America and Southern Europe”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 10(2): 517-543.

D’Agostino M. (2017), “Beyond the Perimeter of Depoliticization. The Evolution of the Global Governance of Refugees and its Territorialisation in Calabria”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 10(2): 544-568.

Di Chio S. (2017), “Impolitic Gambling. Chance and Inequality in Contemporary Italy”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 10(2): 569-588.

Adaman F. (2017), “Scaling in Polanyi. Reconsidering the Local in the Age of Neolibera-lism”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 10(2): 589-612.

Bobbio L. (2017), “Neither Completely Political nor Completely Unpolitical. The Third Way of Deliberative Arenas”, Partecipazione e conflitto, 10(2): 613-635.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.