Burdens of Political Responsibility

Burdens of Political Responsibility : Narrative and the Cultivation of Responsiveness

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How can human beings acknowledge and experience the burdens of political responsibility? Why are we tempted to flee them, and how might we come to affirm them? Jade Larissa Schiff calls this experience of responsibility 'the cultivation of responsiveness'. In Burdens of Political Responsibility: Narrative and the Cultivation of Responsiveness, she identifies three dispositions that inhibit responsiveness - thoughtlessness, bad faith, and misrecognition - and turns to storytelling in its manifold forms as a practice that might facilitate and frustrate it. Through critical engagements with an unusual cast of characters (from Bourdieu to Sartre) hailing from a variety of disciplines (political theory, phenomenology, sociology, and literary criticism), she argues that how we represent our world and ourselves in the stories we share, and how we receive those stories, can facilitate and frustrate the cultivation of responsiveness.show more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 113969913X
  • 9781139699136

Table of contents

Acknowledgments; Introduction; 1. The problem of responsiveness; 2. Thoughtlessness; 3. Bad faith; 4. Misrecognition; 5. Mimesis and responsiveness; 6. Ambivalent confessions; Conclusion: toward a politics of responsiveness.show more

Review quote

'In Burdens of Political Responsibility, Jade Schiff has many stories to tell - of engagement and disengagement, bad faith and good, power and powerlessness, the meaning of identity, and the claims that our specific identities make upon us. This is a nuanced, careful, and deeply felt exploration into the relationship between the ordinary and extraordinary experiences of life in a world that too often frustrates our desires to act in responsible ways. Yet Schiff is not frustrated. She instead acts as a steady and encouraging voice for new ways of facing power and connecting with others.' Thomas Dumm, Amherst College 'Jade Schiff very thoughtfully explores one of the most important questions of political life: how do we come to acknowledge and experience - or disavow - the burdens of political responsibility for suffering in which we are implicated? Through insightful readings of Arendt, Sartre, Bourdieu, and others, Schiff's book sheds important light on how and why cultivating dialogical narrative practice is indispensable to our sense of responsibility, and she proposes a theory of political musicality that truly rings.' Romand Coles, Northern Arizona University 'Drawing on a rich variety of theoretical and political sources, Jade Larissa Schiff's beautifully written book details the forms of narrative flight that impede political responsiveness and explores the kinds of stories that can elicit engagement with the suffering of others. In an era of neoliberal globalization dominated by thoughtlessness, bad faith, and misrecognition, Schiff's lucid account offers us an ethical counterpoint that is more important than ever.' Jeanne Morefield, Whitman College 'In contemporary political theory, responsibility is becoming a key concept. In this fine book, Jade Schiff reconceives some barriers to responsiveness - thoughtlessness, bad faith, and misrecognition - and shows us how, using narrative and story, the power of responsiveness to the suffering of others can help to produce new political thinking.' Joan Tronto, University of Minnesotashow more

About Jade Larissa Schiff

Jade Larissa Schiff is Assistant Professor of Politics at Oberlin College. Her specialty is in twentieth- and twenty-first-century continental political theory, and she works at the intersections of political theory, phenomenology, and literary criticism. Her current research explores experiences of suffering and the ways in which we narrate and respond to those experiences.show more