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The Political Thought of Jacques Rancière

Creating Equality

Todd May

Paperback i (Printed to Order)
eBook (PDF) i

This is the first single-authored book in any language devoted entirely to the thought of Jacques Rancière. It focuses on his central political idea that a democratic politics emerges from the presupposition of equality. Todd May examines and extends this presupposition, offering a framework for understanding it, placing it in the current political context, and showing how it challenges traditional political philosophy and opens up neglected political paths.

May aims to show that Rancière's view offers both hope and perspective for those who seek to think about and engage in progressive political action.

Key Features

  • Offers a thorough discussion of Rancière's concept of equality
  • Provides an ethical framework in which to ground his politics
  • Shows why Rancière is crucial for political reflection today
  • Both translated and untranslated works are referred to


1. Passive Equality
2. Active Equality: Democratic Politics
3. The Historical Roots of Democratic Politics: Anarchism
4. The Normative Framework of Democratic Politics
5. Active Equality in Contemporary Politics

About the Author

Todd May is Class of 1941 Memorial Professor of the Humanities at Clemson University. Among his most recent publications are Gilles Deleuze: An Introduction (2005) and The Philosophy of Foucault (2006). He has also been active in various political movements of equality, including anti-racism work and the struggle for Palestinian rights.


Todd May's book is a powerful argument in favor of an active, egalitarian politics that takes its inspiration from the tradition of "communist anarchy" and the work of Jacques Rancière. It navigates adeptly and intelligently between some of the most significant developments in 'analytic political philosophy' since the 1970s (Rawls, Nozick, Sen, etc.) and the avant-garde of French critical theory since the 1960s (Foucault, Deleuze, Levinas, Rancière, etc.). Unlike other such attempts, and in spite of his own allegiances to the latter tradition, May takes the time to carefully analyze and explicate the work he criticizes, which he usefully groups together under the heading of 'passive equality.' Moreover, May's clear writing style and analytic acumen allow him to draw on many of the strong points in contemporary French thought without slipping into a hermetic jargon of authenticity.
- Gabriel Rockhill, Villanova University
Equality is not something that we must expect from state institutions. It is something that we must both presuppose and create through collective action. Todd May investigates in depth the philosophical grounds, ethical implications and practical consequences of the view of active equality. Much more than a commentary, his book is a powerful analysis of what politics means and how we can recover the project of political action.
- Jacques Ranciere