Politics as a Vocation: Notes Toward a Sensualist Understanding of Political Engagement

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Abstract

Drawing data from works of political non-fiction that help to reveal the moral and sensual underpinnings of political practice, this paper seeks to adumbrate a sensualist understanding of political engagement. After beginning with a brief discussion of Weber's seminal essay “Politics as a Vocation,” I then construct an ideal type of political passion with which to highlight the inherent shortcomings that plague traditional explanations of political action. My argument is that these approaches are all vitiated by their reliance on Chinese-box epistemology. I go on to suggest that in order to obtain a genuinely sociological account of political engagement, one must develop methods that are true to the experiential specifics of politics while recognizing the conditions that shape the possibility of those very experiences.

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