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Incalculable Community


  • Jonna Pettersson

Summary, in English

This thesis argues that the Western thinking of political community has assumed the community to require a unity or unifying principle that serves as delineation. It suggests that sameness, reflected in history, space, language, or reason, has been assumed as the condition of possibility of the political community. Consequently, a particular identity is made a prerequisite for membership and vouches for the sameness of the community, which, in turn, ascertains that unifying delineations are upheld. Since sameness is either established against, or productive of difference, the thesis maintains that any attempts to broaden the scope for inclusion will give rise to new externalities, as long as sameness continues to be assumed as the condition of possibility for the community.

The aim of the thesis is twofold, on the one hand, it critically assesses attempts to widen the meaning and reach for political belonging and discusses how remaining within the framework of a community predicated on sameness makes it difficult for these attempts to live up to their aspirations. On the other hand, the thesis has also a hermeneutical and normative approach in that it seeks to divert the thinking of political community from assumptions of calculability, unity, and boundedness. Since both the sameness of the own and the difference of the other are predicated on an assumption of identity, the thesis approaches this task with the aim to develop a notion of sameness that does not presuppose difference and a notion of difference that does not presuppose identity.

Doing this, the thesis engages in close readings of texts in democratic theory, citizenship theory, pluralist engagements with the problem of unity and delineation, and continental philosophy. It argues that in order to confront the problem of closure and exclusion, the question of political co-existence needs to be reformulated and relocated so as to grasp the meaning of an incalculable community.

Publishing year





Lund Political Studies



Document type



Lund University


  • Political Science


  • Community
  • Sameness
  • Citizenship
  • Democracy
  • Space
  • Continental philosophy





  • ISBN: 978-91-7623-209-5

Defence date

23 January 2015

Defence time


Defence place

Edens hörsal, Paradisgata 5 H, Lund


  • Lars Toender (Associate Professor)