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Reflections on phronetic social science: a dialogue between Stewart Clegg, Bent Flyvbjerg and Mark Haugaard

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Stewart Clegg


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Clegg, Flyvbjerg and Haugaard debate the strengths and weaknesses of a Foucauldian–Nietzschean critique of power compared to a tradition exemplified by Lukes and Habermas. Flyvbjerg and Clegg argue that the pursuit of universal normative principles and of rationality without power may lead to oppressive utopian thinking. Drawing on the Aristotelian tradition of phronesis, they propose a contextualist form of critique that situates itself in analysis of local practices to render domination transparent and open to change. While Haugaard accepts there cannot be a universal view that transcends the particularities of context, he argues that the phronetic approach is crypto-normative because it implicitly presupposes unacknowledged liberal normative premises; moreover, any use of ‘truth’ as a criterion follows Enlightenment principles of verification.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Clegg SR, Flyvbjerg B, Haugaard M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Political Power

Year: 2014

Volume: 7

Issue: 2

Pages: 275-306

Print publication date: 01/05/2014

Online publication date: 20/06/2013

ISSN (print): 2158-379X

ISSN (electronic): 2158-3803

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/2158379X.2014.929259


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