Migration and Asylum. ‘Dissensus’ as a Sociological Concept in European Politics

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This chapter proposes dissensus as an important concept to read the current debates over migration and asylum. Dissensus allows us to have as a starting point, disagreement as the key characteristic of the fragmented and divided societies of today. Dissensus is drawn from Jacques Ranciere; however, it is necessary to augment and revise the idea to shape it as a sociological concept (by modifying Rancière’s philosophical approach and stripping it of elements that allude to any kind of ‘anti-sociology’ ingrained in his thinking. Rancière developed his theory around notions of ‘disagreement’ and ‘dissensus’ relating to ‘the distribution of the sensible’, which goes back to Aristotle, to address the delineation of the boundary between who can talk, and who can be represented, and counted. This chapter conceptualizes the notion of dissensus as a valuable element within the broader, complex, and multilayered fragmentations and polarizations that extend beyond the binary exceptional sense that divides ‘the Police’ (i.e. everyday management and discipline) from ‘Politics’, as Rancière did. However, politics are not exceptional and rare; rather the political is present in all forms of struggle, action and intervention that reassert decision-making over public affairs as anyone’s concerns, and as the expression of anyone’s equal capacity. The paper discusses some common failings of reading migration and society in many mainstream studies, and then sketches out some of the crucial elements for reassembling a critical sociological reading of migration as a social phenomenon. Migration must be understood in the context of mobilities rather than perceiving migration as an exogenous force that enters ‘society’ from outside. Migration is very much part and parcel of the processes of global transformations, in a world possibly in a permanent state of disequilibrium rather than a mere transitional phase. This will allow us to uncover the bases for another sociology that is properly rooted and empirically documented in social reality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSCRIPTING DEFIANCE
Subtitle of host publication Four Sociological Vignettes
Place of PublicationIndia
PublisherTulika Press
Number of pages39
ISBN (Print)978-81-950559-1-3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • dissensus
  • migration
  • states of exception
  • sociology
  • asylum
  • borders


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