The Power of Normativity, the Normativity of Power

Dr. Federica Gregoratto

My research aims at developing a philosophical account of power and at analyzing its normative presuppositions and consequences from the perspective of a critical theory of society. I argue that power exercises are to be understood as constitutive for what I call the social relation of interdependence. Interdependence relations are constituted both by dependence bonds between individuals and by individuals’ strive for independence. Such social relations are embedded in social structures (bodily schemas, sets of believes and habits, values and norms) and institutions (economic, political, cultural, interpersonal.) In short, power represents the condition of independence and is at the same time conditioned by dependence bonds.
 
In order to fulfill not only a descriptive but also a critical-normative function, this account of power ought to be specified within specific social spheres – e.g. political, economic, or intimate spheres.
 
On the basis of this research outline, I have first analyzed Jürgen Habermas’ multiple conception of power, which is crucial for understanding his deliberative model of democracy. With the aim of exploring a not well-known line of inquiry, I have argued that Habermas’ account of power can be reformulated as conceptual basis for a critical theory of democracy -- see F. Gregoratto “Political Power and its Pathologies. An Attempt to Reconsider Habermas’ Critical Theory of Democracy”, in Constellations, 22: 3, September 2015, forthcoming.
 
Second, I have investigated power relations as relations of interdependence between creditors and debtors. Following this line of inquiry is particularly fruitful if one aims at unraveling the interconnection between moral/ethical claims and power/domination structures, which can be regarded as (one of the) normative order(s) regulating present-day neoliberal society -- see F. Gregoratto “Debt, Power, and the Normativity of Interdependence: Current Debates and the Young Marx” in Hegel, Marx and the Contemporary World. Conference Proceedings, edited by K. Boiveiri, E. Chaput and A. Theurillat-Cloutier, Cambridge, forthcoming; a Spanish translation is also planned (forthcoming in Las Armas de la Critica, ed. by Serrano J. Z. & Casuso, G.)
 
Third, I have examined my account of power within the sphere of intimate relationships, especially romantic love and care. My aim is to link together two different traditions of thought with regard to love studies, namely the so-called analytical philosophy of love, according to which love is a constituent of the good life, and the feminist tradition, which has mainly condemned (romantic) love as ideological device for the oppression and domination of women -- see F. Gregoratto, “Pathology of Love as Gender Domination: Recognition and Gender Identities in Axel Honneth and Jessica Benjamin”, in Studies in Social & Political Thought, Special Issue on “Pathologies of Recognition”, forthcoming 2015; F. Gregoratto, „Why Love Kills: Power, Gender Domination and Intimate Femicide“, Hypathia, Special Issue: Feminist Love Studies in the 21st Century, submitted; F. Gregoratto, “Vincoli del riconoscimento. Amore e potere secondo Honneth, Benjamin e Illouz”, in F. Gregoratto, F. Ranchio (ed.), Contesti del riconoscimento, Mimesis, Milano/Udine 2014, 275 – 293.


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