Liberation and Limitation: Eco-emancipatory politics and the authoritarian turn

Presentation and Q&A by Professor Ingolfur Blühdorn from the University for Economics and Business in Vienna

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Despite decades of emancipatory mobilisation, there is no realistic prospect for any profound socio-ecological transformation of contemporary consumer societies. Instead, social inequality and ecological destruction are on the rise and an autocratic-authoritarian turn is reshaping even the most established liberal democracies. In explaining these phenomena, the struggle for autonomy and emancipation is an important parameter that has not received much attention so far. In this talk, Ingolfur Blühdorn will investigate these phenomena through the lens of the dialectic of emancipation placing particular emphasis on the relationship between the rule-transgressing and the rule-setting capacities of emancipatory politics.


Ingolfur Blühdorn is Professor for Social Sustainability and Head of the Institute for Social Change and Sustainability (IGN) at the University for Economics and Business in Vienna. He is a political sociologist and socio-political theorist. His work explores the legacy of the emancipatory social movements since the early 1970s, their participatory revolution and the transformation of emancipatory politics over the past five decades. Having obtained his PhD (eco-social theory) from the University of Keele (UK), Blühdorn was Lecturer and Reader in Political Sociology in Leicester and at the University of Bath.

Full article: Politicisation beyond post-politics: new social activism and the reconfiguration of political discourse (

Full article: The dialectic of democracy: modernization, emancipation and the great regression (

Full article: The legitimation crisis of democracy: emancipatory politics, the environmental state and the glass ceiling to socio-ecological transformation (


LESS Group

This webinar is part of a new series launched by the new LESS research group and supported by CERIC.   

Currently we are all very concerned and stressed due to the Covid crisis. Putting the current crisis into a longer-term perspective, we might ask ourselves whether a political-economic and cultural system which struggles to deal with the Covid crisis will have the capacity to deal with the environmental crisis adequately. If your answer to this question is as pessimistic as ours, you might be interested in joining the LESS group — a new cross-divisional group at LUBS to explore system-level sustainability research, open to all researchers regardless of disciplinary background or prior experience in sustainability research.

We are inspired by a growing number of studies, which argue that the environmental crisis requires radical change of the political-economic and cultural structure within which organizations and individuals operate. The mission of the LESS group is to advance interdisciplinary efforts to develop system-level research that addresses the environmental emergency.

To join the LESS group please contact either of LESS' co-leaders:
Zlatko Bodrožić
Vera Trappmann


Read more about CERIC Spring 2021 Webinar Series HERE