This Independent Study is divided into four chapters. The first chapter examines the role of capitalism in the formation of our culture. The argument presented here is that culture plays an important role in reinforcing modern neoliberal capitalism and that neoliberal capitalism has massive control over the dissemination of culture and the arts. The chapter concludes that it is necessary to utilize socio-cultural means in combating the influence of capitalism, and there does indeed exist emancipatory potential in artistic political praxis.

The second chapter focuses on Theodor Adorno’s aesthetic theory in articulating his conception of the emancipatory potential of art. This chapter explicates on Adorno’s idea of a sovereign and autonomous artistic praxis and looks at his objections to the politicization of art. Finally, the chapter looks at what Adorno considers legitimate artistic political praxis and attempts at an understanding of Adorno’s concept of aesthetic negativity in relation to artistic political praxis.

The third chapter focuses on the political theory of Chantal Mouffe; specifically, it is an explication of her theory of agonistics as a democratic political praxis. The chapter will explore Mouffe’s concept of hegemony in relation to how she conceives of agonistics. It will also explain how Mouffe understands public spaces as battlegrounds for agonistic struggle. The fourth chapter focuses on how Mouffe conceives of the role of art in agonistic political praxis.

The fourth and final chapter of this study evaluates the two different conceptions of artistic political praxis presented by Adorno and Mouffe on their respective merits and deficiencies. It will attempt to adjudicate the differences between the respective theories and try to formulate some kind of practical frame for how artistic political praxis ought to be conducted.


McBride, Lee

Second Advisor

Weaver, Mark


Philosophy; Political Science


Aesthetics | Continental Philosophy | Ethics and Political Philosophy | Political Theory | Theory and Criticism


Adorno, Mouffe, Political Praxis, Aesthetic Theory, Critical art, negative dialectics, aesthetic negativity, autonomous art, hegemony, culture industry, agonistics, post-Fordism, artistic resistance

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar



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