Towards a Rancièrean Critical Theory

Matthew Lampert


While Jacques Rancière has never been affiliated in any way with the Institute for Social Research, this article examines the extent to which his work could be considered “Critical Theory” in the sense most closely associated with the Frankfurt School tradition. I argue that Rancière’s work is not critical theory in this narrow sense; I further lay out a kind of “Rancièrean” criticism of the very project of Frankfurt School Critical Theory. This in turn allows me to sketch out a version of Critical Theory that might survive a Rancièrean critique. Even by this renewed conception, however, I argue that Rancière’s own work still cannot be considered a project of Critical Theory; but I finish the essay by laying out what a possible “Rancièrean” Critical Theory might look like, and why I think such a project would be valuable.


Rancière; Critical Theory; critique; emancipation

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Copyright (c) 2019 Matthew Lampert

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