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Making the Political
Founding and Action in the Political Theory of Zhang Shizhao

  • Author: Leigh K. Jenco, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Date Published: June 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521760607


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About the Authors
  • Democratic political theory often sees collective action as the basis for non-coercive social change, assuming that its terms and practices are always self-evident and accessible. But what if we find ourselves in situations where collective action is not immediately available, or even widely intelligible? This book examines one of the most intellectually substantive and influential Chinese thinkers of the early twentieth century, Zhang Shizhao (1881–1973), who insisted that it is individuals who must 'make the political' before social movements or self-aware political communities have materialized. Zhang draws from British liberalism, democratic theory, and late-Imperial Confucianism to formulate new roles for effective individual action on personal, social, and institutional registers. In the process, he offers a vision of community that turns not on spontaneous consent or convergence on a shared goal, but on ongoing acts of exemplariness that inaugurate new, unpredictable contexts for effective personal action.

    • The first Western book to analyze the work of Zhang Shizhao, who has been increasingly recognized as among the most important and influential thinkers of early twentieth-century China
    • Uses Zhang Shizhao as a lens through which to assess and advance contemporary democratic debates in political theory
    • Examines a large range of primary and secondary material in Chinese, allowing readers to use Chinese thought in order to guide theory
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The account of political founding in Making the Political is of great significance today: Zhang Shizhao's insights speak to the dilemmas of those faced with collapsing or unstable polities, and lessons from his work challenge fundamental themes in political theory. Equally important, Jenco's method - careful scholarship based on the Chinese sources combined with a dynamic use of contemporary theory to interrogate and amplify Zhang's arguments - make the book a model for future, globally informed theorizing.' Stephen C. Angle, Wesleyan University, Connecticut

    'This is an original and important piece of work that addresses a range of debates in political theory today relating to political agency, democratization, and the construction of political community. Leigh K. Jenco brings distinctive perspective to these questions and fruitfully models the practice of comparative political theory. In both its substance and its methods, the book breaks new ground.' Sharon R. Krause, Brown University, Rhode Island

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2010
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521760607
    • length: 296 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 159 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.57kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Introduction:
    1. Making the political
    2. Zhang Shizhao and his world
    Part II. Founding:
    3. The founding paradox
    4. 'Rule by man' and 'rule by law'
    5. Public, private, and the political
    Part III. Action:
    6. Self-awareness
    7. The self-use of talent
    8. Accommodation
    Conclusion: a return to beginnings.

  • Author

    Leigh K. Jenco, London School of Economics and Political Science
    Leigh K. Jenco (B.A., Bard College; M.A. and Ph.D., University of Chicago) is a lecturer at the London School of Economics. Before moving to the LSE, she taught at the National University of Singapore for four years, and for 2007–8 was appointed Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Political Theory Project, Brown University, Rhode Island. She is winner of the 2008 Strauss Award for Best Dissertation in Political Philosophy, awarded by American Political Science Association, and has published articles in the American Political Science Review, Political Theory and the Journal of Asian Studies.

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