Alberto Toscano On Ranciere’s anti-sociology and relation to Badiou


The following interview was conducted on 29th March, 2011, commissioned by Theory Culture and Society, as following up of Alberto Toscano’s talk titled ‘Anti-sociology and its limit’ at the University of Essex, Feburary, 2011. In this interview, Alberto Toscano explains his critique of Jacques Ranciere: anti-sociology.

(On Ranciere’s anti-sociology and his relation to anarchism)

Ranciere’s proposal of the equality as the starting point instead of a goal intrinsically sets himself against all hierarchical structures and organization knowledge. Ranciere’s method based on the homonymy such as democracy/’democracy’, politics/police, etc, constantly challenges the existing governing rules that are nevertheless obstacles towards emancipation and the politics of equality. A true emancipation and equality, is found by Ranciere in the thought of the revolutionary school master Joseph Jacotot(1770-1840), whose pedagogical method sets against the opposition between the guardian and the ignorance. Ranciere proposes that one must think beyond the two legacies of Enlightenment, firstly one that gives the privilege to schoolmasters to educate the workers (golden communists vs iron workers); secondly the triumph of individualism over community[1].

Ranciere’s proposal of a radical equality and anarchic democracy juxtaposes him with the sociologists and philosophers who attempt to work out an epistemological scheme of equality and democracy. In this interview, Alberto Toscano explores the development of Ranciere’s thought since the 1980s, when he targeted at the sociology camp of Pierre Bourdieu, and argued that, according to Toscano, ‘the form of critique of sociology as a discipline, inhibits the thinking of the specificity of politics and the specificity of emancipation’. Instead Toscano proposes the limit of this anti-sociology approach and criticized that ‘Ranciere risks sacrificing the (counter-)epistemological dimension of politics to its aesthetic one, missing the potentially fruitful links between the two. [2]’

The interview also discussed Ranciere’s relation to anarchism (as proposed by Todd May3), his ideas on sharing and trust with regarding to organization struture, and the resonance between Ranciere’s work ‘The Hatred of Democracy’, and Toscano’s own work on fanaticism [part 2]. Toscanno also compared Alain Badiou and Jacques Ranciere [part 3] and discussed his current projects and his philosophical reflection on his work with the union against the current education reform in the UK [part 4].

(On Ranciere and his relevance to Toscano’s own works on fanaticism)

(On the similarity and difference between Ranciere and Alain Badiou)

(On his current projects and his involvement with the union)

[1] Jacques Ranciere (2011) ‘Communists Without Communism?’, in The Idea of Communism, London: Verso
[2] Alberto Toscano (2011) Anti-Sociology and its Limits
[3] Todd May (2008) The Political Thought of Jacques Rancière: Creating Equality, Pennsylvania State University Press

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