Perspectives on
Media Research

Title chapter: Diversifying the Other: Antagonism, agonism and the multiplicity of articulations of self and other
Author: Nico Carpentier
Keywords: antagonism, agonism, Other, enemy, adversary, ally, neighbour, friend, discourse theory, constructionism, post-structuralism
Abstract: Antagonism and agonism have become popular concepts, including in the field of Media and Communication Studies, because they capture the logics of conflict, the construction of self and other, and the relationship between conflict and democracy. This chapter aims to deepen the theoretical reflections on these two concepts by combining a discourse-theoretical and an empirical-enrichment strategy in order to deal with two problems: the black-boxing of antagonism and agonism, and their dichotomization. The first problem is tackled by extracting three defining characteristics of these two concepts: the pairs of radical difference vs conflictual togetherness; homogenization vs pluralization of the self; and enemy destruction vs peaceful and non-violent interaction. The second problem is dealt with by acknowledging a multiplicity of antagonisms and agonisms and unpacking the category of the Other. The latter implies a move beyond the antagonistic other-enemy and the agonistic other-adversary and recognition of the existence of other-neighbours, other-allies, other-friends and others that become re-articulated as part of the self.
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