The Reification of the Political: Critical Theory and the Possibility of Politics


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Political Science


This dissertation resurrects the critique of reification that was central to Marx’s, Lukács’, and the Frankfurt School’s work, and uses the concept to restore the broken connection between radical democratic theory and the critique of capitalism. Reification refers to the process by which human beings come to experience structures of social domination under capitalism as objectively given, and thus immutable, rather than as historically constituted products of human practice. This dissertation argues that an understanding of the processes of reification, which illuminates the contradictory nature of modern social and political life under capitalism, is crucial to comprehending the forms that democracy—understood explicitly in contrast to liberal democracy—could take in the present.