Dangerous classes : tracing back an epistemological fear

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2011
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Zusammenfassung

The article focuses on the nineteenth century fear of the "dangerous classes". From the dangerous classes – all social scientists agreed – emanated a fundamental threat to society. However, corresponding to this seemingly social threat, on a much deeper level an epistemological threat was caused by the dangerous classes as well. The epistemological fear of the dangerous classes – this is the thesis – results from the confrontation of the researcher with an object of analysis that keeps withdrawing itself from any analytical fixation and adjustment as such. In the article particularly three aspects of this epistemological fear – the fear of heterogeneity, of a levelling of borders and of hybridization – are presented and contextualized within a wider epistemological horizon, namely the nineteenth century ideal of objectivity. The last chapter of the article outlines what seems to be a reactualization of the notion of the dangerous classes within current social theories on urban violence and exclusion. In reference to Deleuze and Guattari's nomadology as well as Hardt and Negri's concept of the multitude I want to call attention to what seems to be an affirmative reinterpretation of the notion of thedangerous classes in post-structuralist theories. Thus, by virtually taking the current usage of the notion of the dangerous classes seriously, I want to emphasize the possibility to epistemically sharpen post-structuralist analyses of contemporary social caesurae and ruptures precisely by reading them against the negative background of the nineteenth century fear of the dangerous classes.

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300 Sozialwissenschaften, Soziologie
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Dangerous classes, Deleuze and Guattari, epistemology, exclusion, Frégier, Hardt and Negri, Mayhew, objectivity, pauperism
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ISO 690SCHEU, Johannes, 2011. Dangerous classes : tracing back an epistemological fear. In: Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory. 2011, 12(2), pp. 115-134. ISSN 1600-910X. Available under: doi: 10.1080/1600910X.2011.572716
BibTex
@article{Scheu2011Dange-19847,
  year={2011},
  doi={10.1080/1600910X.2011.572716},
  title={Dangerous classes : tracing back an epistemological fear},
  number={2},
  volume={12},
  issn={1600-910X},
  journal={Distinktion: Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory},
  pages={115--134},
  author={Scheu, Johannes}
}
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