Dr. Azmanova is Reader (Associate Professor) of Political and Social Thought. She teaches courses in democratic theory and political economy. Her writing is dedicated to bringing the critique of political economy (back) into critical social theory. Her research ranges from democratic transition and consolidation to the dynamics of contemporary capitalism and its effect on ideological orientation and electoral mobilisation. Among her publications are Capitalism on Edge. How Fighting Precarity Can Achieve Radical Change Without Crisis or Utopia (Columbia University Press, 2020), “The Emancipation Paradox: Populism, Democracy, and the Soul of the Left” (Philosophy and Social Criticism, 2019), and “The Populist Catharsis: On the Revival of the Political,” in Philosophy and Social Criticism, 2018).

After having taken active participation in the dissident movements that brought down the communist regime in her native Bulgaria in 1987-1990, she studied European Law at the University of Strasbourg, did her doctoral studies at the New School for Social Research in New York, and taught political theory at the Institut d'études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po.) in Paris, before joining the BSIS in 2005, where she directs the programmes International Political Economy and Political Strategy and Communication. She has been working as a policy advisor to a number of international institutions such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the European Commission, and Transparency International.
Dr Azmanova is Affiliate Member of the Bauman Institute: https://baumaninstitute.leeds.ac.uk/

Research interests

Her research bridges political theory and sociology and centers on three clusters of issues: (1) the transformation of capitalism and related to it changes in political orientation and mobilisation, most recently focusing on a project for post-growth societies; (2) democratic transition and consolidation, with a focus on the post-communist societies of East and Central Europe and Asia; (3) theories of justice and judgment, with a focus on the relations between democratic decision-making and the imperatives of capitalist economies.


Showing 50 of 69 total publications in the Kent Academic Repository. View all publications.


  • Azmanova, A. (2020). Anti-Capital in the XXIst Century (on the metacrisis of capitalism and the prospects for radical politics). Philosophy and Social Criticism [Online]. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0191453720905862.
    Using the temperate nature of recent social protest as its entry point, this analysis investigates the current state of liberal democracies as one in which the purported crisis of capitalism has entered a crisis of its own – a social condition of metacrisis, marked by the absence of utopian energies and prospects for a revolution, even as society experiences itself in perpetual crisis. This inquiry then discerns the potential for radical change in terms of subverting capitalism (rather than overthrowing or resisting it) through practices that counteract the very constitutive dynamic of capitalism – the production of profit.
  • Azmanova, A. (2019). The paradox of emancipation: Populism, democracy and the soul of the Left. Philosophy and Social Criticism [Online] 45:1186-1207. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0191453719872291.
    What is the connection between the surge of populism and the deflation of electoral support to traditional left-leaning ideological positions? How can we explain the downfall of the Left in conditions that should be propelling it to power? In its reaction both to the neo-liberal hegemony and to the rise of populism, I claim that the Left is afflicted by what Nietzsche called ‘a democratic prejudice’ – the reflex of reading history as the advent of democracy and its crisis. As a result, the Left now undertakes to recover democracy by resurrecting the growth-and-redistribution policy set that was a trademark of the ‘golden age’ of social democracy in the three post-war decades. This nostalgic gesture, however, is leading the Left into another predicament, which I call the ‘paradox of emancipation’ – while fighting for equality and inclusion as essential conditions for democratic citizenship, the Left is validating the social order within which equality and inclusion are being sought – namely, order shaped by the competitive production of profit which is the root cause of our societies’ plight. The analysis concludes with a proposal for building a counter-hegemony against neo-liberal capitalism by means of enlarging the Left’s focus beyond its traditional concerns with inequality and exclusion, to address also the injustice of growing social and economic insecurity – a harm whose reach surpasses the working poor. Reformulating an agenda of social justice around issues of economic insecurity that cross the ‘class divide’ would allow the Left to mobilize a broad coalition of social forces for radical and lasting change in the direction of socialist democracy.
  • Azmanova, A. and Dakwar, A. (2019). The inverted postnational constellation: Identitarian populism in context. European Law Journal [Online] 25:494-501. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/eulj.12342.
    As exemplified by the pan‐European ‘Identitarian movement’ (IM), contemporary far‐right populism defies the habitual matrix within which right‐wing radicalism has been criticised as a negation of liberal cosmopolitanism. The IM's political stance amalgamates features of cultural liberalism and racialist xenophobia into a defence of ‘European way of life.’ We offer an alternative decoding of the phenomenon by drawing on Jürgen Habermas's ‘postnational constellation.’ It casts the IM's protectionist qua chauvinistic populism as ‘inverted’ postnationalism, engendered through territorial and ethnic appropriation of universal political values. As such, inclusionary ideals of cosmopolitan liberalism and democracy purporting humanistic postnationalism have been transformed by Identitarians into elements of a privileged civilisational life‐style to be protected from ‘intruders.’ Remaining within the remit of the grammar of the postnational constellation, trans‐European chauvinism, we contend, is susceptible to inclusive articulation. Foregrounding radical emancipatory social transformation would however require not more democracy, but a principled critique of capitalism.
  • Azmanova, A. (2018). The Populist Catharsis: On the Revival of the Political. Philosophy and Social Criticism [Online] 44:399-411. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0191453718760091.
    The upsurge of populist movements and the entry of populist parties into parliaments and governments over the last decade has been condemned as being the cause of the sorry
    state of democratic politics in western societies. As populism erodes the liberal political culture of consensus-building through deliberation that achieves inclusive diversity, the verdict goes, it undercuts the very foundation of liberal democracies. Taking my distance from this diagnosis of our current predicament, I will argue that populism is not the cause of the erosion of diversity capital, it is its outcome. I will examine the hypothesis that populism is the symptom of a pathological state of the political in contemporary democracies. Focusing on the process of politicization of social grievances, I will offer a diagnosis of the state of the political in the early twenty-first century, in order to discern populism's capacity to reboot democratic politics.
  • Azmanova, A. (2018). Relational, structural and systemic forms of power: the ‘right to justification’ confronting three types of domination. Journal of Political Power [Online] 11:68-78. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/2158379X.2018.1433757.
    This article investigates the nature of intellectual critique and social criticism Rainer Forst’s critical theory of
    justification enables. I introduce a taxonomy of three forms of power – namely, ‘relational’, ‘structural’ and
    ‘systemic’ – and related to them types of domination, and assess the capacity of Forst’s conceptual
    framework to address each of them. I argue that the right to justification is a potent tool for emancipation
    from structural and relational forms of domination, but claim that Forst’s particular conceptualisation of
    power prevents him from addressing injustices generated by ‘systemic domination’ – the subjection of all
    actors to the functional imperatives of the system of social relations.
  • Azmanova, A., Saar, M., Treiber, G., Dakwar, A., McAfee, N., Feenberg, A. and Allen, A. (2018). Emancipation, Progress, Critique: Debating Amy Allen’s The End of Progress. Contemporary Political Theory [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41296-018-0215-6.
  • Azmanova, A. (2017). Taking the Spanish government before the law. Taking the Spanish government before the law [Online] 12 Oct. Available at: https://opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/albena-azmanova/taking-spanish-government-before-law.
    I lay out the procedure and the logic for suing the Spanish government for its treatment of the Catalan referendum of 1 October 2017. I claim that the Spanish Constitutional Tribunal's decisions which gave legal ground for Mariano Rajoy's attempt to crush the referendum, are in violation of the freedom of speech and the right to peaceful assembly protected by the Spanish Constitution, EU law, and International law.
  • Azmanova, A. (2016). Empowerment as Surrender: How Women Lost the Struggle for Emancipation as They Won Equality and Inclusion. Social Research 83.
    This analysis addresses the way second-wave feminism, through its incontestable achievements in terms of both political mobilization and intellectual critique, failed to address the larger structural sources of the injustice the movement fought, thereby falling short of the lasting emancipation it aspired to achieve. This is a story of “failure by success.” I also chart a path for recasting the feminist agenda from the point of view of a broader critique of contemporary capitalism, in which instances of gender injustice are symptomatic of broader forms of domination to which men and women are equally subjected.
  • Azmanova, A. (2015). The Right to Politics and Republican Non-Domination. Philosophy and Social Criticism [Online] 42:465-475. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0191453715623394.
    Against pronouncements of the recent demise of both democracy and the political, I maintain that there is, rather, something amiss in our societies with the process of politicization in which social grievances are translated into matters of political concern and become object of policy making. I therefore propose to seek an antidote to the depoliticizing tendencies of our age by reanimating the mechanism transmitting social conflicts and grievances into politics. To that purpose, I formulate the notion of a ‘fundamental right to politics’ as the opposite of the techne of policy-making. I articulate this right via a reconstruction of the logical presuppositions of democracy as collective self-authorship. I then recast the concept of non-domination by discerning two trajectories of domination – ‘relational’ and ‘systemic’ ones, to argue that in a viable democracy that takes full use of the right to politics, dynamics of politicization should take place along both trajectories; currently, however, matters of systemic injustice get translated in relational terms and politicized as redistributive concerns.
  • Azmanova, A. (2014). Crisis? Capitalism is Doing Very Well. How is Critical Theory?. Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory [Online] 21:351-365. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8675.12101.
    There is no crisis of capitalism, only a crisis of critique. I claim that Critical Social Theory of Frankfurt School origins does stand guilty of a failure to develop a body of valiant critique of the political economy of neoliberal capitalism in the course of the latter’s ascent in the 1980s and 1990s. The first part of my analysis addresses the crisis of capitalism as a distinct object of critique, in order to identify the direction a critique of contemporary capitalism is to take. The second part examines the analytical equipment at Critical Theory’s disposal for undertaking such an endeavor. Within an inventory of some of the key achievements of the tradition both in terms of its object and method of critique, some conceptual deficiencies are identified – namely, the reduced attention to what I describe as “systemic domination,” and the diminished reliance on a critique of the political economy of capitalism. The third part adumbrates a proposal for recasting Critical Theory by way of (a) redefining the normative content of emancipation; (b) effecting a realist-pragmatic turn within the communicative turn;
    (c) bringing the critique of political economy back into critical social theory.
  • Azmanova, A. (2013). Political Judgment for Agonistic Democracy. No Foundations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Law and Justice [Online]. Available at: http://www.helsinki.fi/nofo/NoFo10AZMANOVA.html.
    I articulate a model of conflict-based deliberative judgment
  • Azmanova, A. (2013). The Crisis of Europe: Democratic Deficit and Eroding Sovereignty — Not Guilty. Law and Critique [Online] 24:23-38. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10978-012-9112-y.
    Taking inspiration from a distinction Kant drew between the way power is organised, and the manner in which it is exercised, this analysis directs attention to the consolidation of an autocratic style of politics in Europe. The co-existence between an autocratic style of rule and preserved democratic organisation of power, which prevents a legitimation crisis, is explained in terms of an altered legitimacy relationship (or social contract) between public authority and citizens. This ultimately allows a discrepancy to emerge between public authority’s increased capacity for policy action and reduced social responsibility for the consequences of that action.
  • Azmanova, A. (2013). The Crisis of Europe: Democratic Deficit and Eroding Sovereignty – Not Guilty. Law and Critique [Online] 24:23-38. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10978-012-9112-y.
    Taking inspiration from a distinction Kant drew between the way power is organised, and the manner in which it is exercised, this analysis directs attention to the consolidation of an autocratic style of politics in Europe. The co-existence between an autocratic style of rule and preserved democratic organisation of power, which prevents a legitimation crisis, is explained in terms of an altered legitimacy relationship (or social contract) between public authority and citizens. This ultimately allows a discrepancy to emerge between public authority’s increased capacity for policy action and reduced social responsibility for the consequences of that action.
  • Azmanova, A. (2012). Social Justice and Varieties of Capitalism: An Immanent Critique. New Political Economy [Online]. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13563467.2011.606902.
    In assessing the various forms of welfare capitalism, normative political philosophy typically draws on two major philosophical traditions – republicanism and liberalism, invoking either equality and the public good or, alternatively, individual autonomy as normative criteria for evaluation. Drawing, instead, on Critical Theory as a tradition of social philosophy, I advance a proposal for assessment of the types of welfare capitalism conducted as ‘immanent critique’ of the key structural dynamics of contemporary capitalism. Normative criteria thus emerge within a diachronic dimension of social transformation, which in turn grounds the comparison among synchronic types of capitalism. This ultimately enables a research agenda for the operationalisation of a normative analysis of capitalism within which social justice is gauged by the degree of voluntary employment flexibility – a key factor in the distribution of life-chances in the early twenty-first century.
  • Azmanova, A. (2012). De-gendering social justice in the 21st century: An immanent critique of neoliberal capitalism. European Journal of Social Theory [Online] 15:143-156. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1368431011423576.
    This article presents a blueprint of a feminist agenda for the twenty-first century that is oriented not by the telos of gender parity, but instead evolves as an ‘immanent critique’ of the key structural dynamics of contemporary capitalism – within a framework of analysis derived from the tenets of Critical Theory of Frankfurt School origin. This activates a form of critique whose double focus on: (1) shared conceptions of justice; and (2) structural sources of injustice, allows criteria of social justice to emerge from the identification of a broad pattern of societal injustice surpassing the discrimination of particular groups. In this light, women’s victimization is but a symptom of structural dynamics negatively affecting also the alleged winners in the classical feminist agenda of critique. The analysis ultimately produces a model of social justice in a formula of socially embedded autonomy that unites work, care, and leisure.
  • Azmanova, A. (2011). After the Left–Right (Dis)continuum: Globalization and the Remaking of Europe’s Ideological Geography. International Political Sociology [Online] 5:384-407. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-5687.2011.00141.x.
    This article examines the status of globalization as a causal factor in political mobilization and proposes a research agenda for diagnosing the impact of global socio-economic dynamics on ideological orientation in national polities. Focusing on Europe’s established democracies, the article outlines recent shifts in Europe’s ideological landscape and explores the mechanisms generating a new pattern of political conflict and electoral competition. It advances the hypothesis that the knowledge economy of open borders has brought about a political cleavage inti- mately linked to citizens’ perceptions of the social impact of global eco- nomic integration. In this context, the polarization of life chances is determined by institutionally mediated exposure to both the economic opportunities and the hazards of globalization. Fostered by the increas- ing relevance of the international for state-bound publics, new fault-lines of social conflict are emerging, giving shape to a new, ‘‘opportunity- risk,’’ axis of political competition. As the novel political cleavage challenges the conventional left–right divide, it is likely to radically alter Europe’s ideological geography.
  • Azmanova, A. (2011). “Against the Politics of Fear: On Deliberation, Inclusion, and the Political Economy of Trust.” Philosophy and Social Criticism [Online] 37:401-412. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0191453710396808.
    This is an inquiry into the economic psychology of trust: what model of the political economy of complex liberal democracies is conducive to attitudes allowing difference to be perceived in the terms of ‘significant other’, rather than as a menacing or an irrelevant stranger. As a test case of prevailing perceptions of otherness in European societies, I examine attitudes towards Turkey’s accession to the European Union. The analysis introduces the concept of 'economic xenophobia'.
  • Azmanova, A. (2010). “Capitalism Reorganised: Social Justice after Neo-liberalism.” Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory [Online] 17:390-406. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8675.2010.00589.x.
    The article traces the emergence of “reorganized” capitalism as consecutively the fourth modality of capitalism – after the 19th century entrepreneurial form, the post-liberal “organized” capitalism of the welfare state, and the “disorganized” neo-liberal model of the late 20th century. The features of the fourth modality emerge from an analysis of (1) the key dynamics of social stratification, (2) the matrix of state-society relations, and (3) the structure of electoral mobilization in advanced industrial democracies.
  • Azmanova, A. (2010). Democracy and the ‘Better Argument’ Mystique. The Good Society [Online] 19. Available at: http://cdd.stanford.edu/mm/2010/azmanova-tgs-mystique.pdf.
    Contribution to a symposium on James Fishkin’s When the People Speak, with contributions also by Jane Mansbridge, Lynn Sanders, Sanford Levinson, and a reply by James Fishkin.
  • Azmanova, A. (2009). 1989 and the Accidental Death of the European Social Model. Policy and Politics [Online] 37:611-615. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/030557309X435808.
  • Azmanova, A. (2009). 1989 and the European Social Model: Transition without emancipation?. Philosophy and Social Criticism [Online] 35:1019-1037. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0191453709343384.
    The post-communist revolutions of 1989 triggered parallel transformation in the ideological landscape on both sides of the former Iron Curtain. The geo-political opening after the end of the Cold War made global integration a highly salient factor in political mobilization, opting out to replace the capital-versus-labor dynamics of conflict that had shaped the ideological families of Europe during the 20th century. This has resulted in splitting the traditional constituencies of the Left and the Right and reorganizing them along new fault-lines: those shaped by attitudes to globalization and EU enlargement (in the West) and by attitudes to EU accession and global economic competition (in the East). Thus, an ideational convergence between East and West is taking place in Europe, radically altering the structure of political competition in the early 21st century. As the new political cleavage cuts across, rather than runs along, the left—right ideological continuum, it is eroding the societal alliances that had supported the post-war European Social Model. The emerging structure of political competition enables substantive changes in the European Social Model in the direction of deepening labor commodification, thus defeating the emancipatory potential that earlier labor-market policies had contained.


  • Azmanova, A. (2020). Capitalism on Edge: How Fighting Precarity Can Achieve Radical Change Without Crisis or Utopia. [Online]. New York: Columbia University Press. Available at: http://cup.columbia.edu/book/capitalism-on-edge/9780231195379.
    The wake of the financial crisis has inspired hopes for dramatic change and stirred visions of capitalism’s terminal collapse. Yet capitalism is not on its deathbed, utopia is not in our future, and revolution is not in the cards. In Capitalism on Edge, Albena Azmanova demonstrates that radical progressive change is still attainable, but it must come from an unexpected direction. Azmanova’s new critique of capitalism focuses on the competitive pursuit of profit rather than on forms of ownership and patterns of wealth distribution. She contends that neoliberal capitalism has mutated into a new form—precarity capitalism—marked by the emergence of a precarious multitude. Widespread economic insecurity ails the 99 percent across differences in income, education, and professional occupation; it is the underlying cause of such diverse hardships as work-related stress and chronic unemployment. In response, Azmanova calls for forging a broad alliance of strange bedfellows whose discontent would challenge not only capitalism’s unfair outcomes but also the drive for profit at its core. To achieve this synthesis, progressive forces need to go beyond the old ideological certitudes of, on the left, fighting inequality and, on the right, increasing competition. Azmanova details reforms that would enable a dramatic transformation of the current system without a revolutionary break. An iconoclastic critique of left orthodoxy, Capitalism on Edge confronts the intellectual and political impasses of our time to discern a new path of emancipation. The book articulates a methodology for critical social analysis.
  • Azmanova, A. (2012). The Scandal of Reason: A Critical Theory of Political Judgment. [Online]. New York: Columbia University Press. Available at: http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-15380-5/the-scandal-of-reason.
    Theories of justice are haunted by a paradox: the more ambitious the ideal of justice, the less applicable and useful the model is to political practice; yet the more politically realistic the theory, the weaker its moral ambition, rendering it unsound and equally useless. Brokering a resolution to this “judgment paradox,” Albena Azmanova advances a “critical consensus model” of judgment that serves the normative ideals of a just society without the help of ideal theory.

    Tracing the evolution of two major traditions in political philosophy—critical theory and philosophical liberalism—and the way they confront the judgment paradox, Azmanova critiques prevailing models of deliberative democracy and their preference for ideal theory over political applicability. Instead, she replaces the reliance on normative models of democracy with an account of the dynamics of reasoned judgment produced in democratic practices of open dialogues. Combining Hannah Arendt’s study of judgment with Pierre Bourdieu’s social critique of power relations, and incorporating elements of political epistemology from Kant, Wittgenstein, H. L. A. Hart, Max Weber, and American philosophical pragmatism, Azmanova centers her inquiry on the way participants in moral conflicts attribute meaning to their grievances of injustice. She then demonstrates the emancipatory potential of the model of critical deliberative judgment she forges and its capacity to guide policy making.

    This model’s critical force yields from its capacity to disclose the common structural sources of injustice behind conflicting claims to justice. Moving beyond the conflict between universalist and pluralist positions, Azmanova grounds the question of “what is justice?” in the empirical reality of “who suffers?” in order to discern attainable possibilities for a less unjust world.

Book section

  • Azmanova, A. (2020). The Costs of the Democratic Turn in Political Theory. In: Martill, B. and Schindler, S. eds. Theory As Ideology in International Relations: The Politics of Knowledge. Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Theory-as-Ideology-in-International-Relations-The-Politics-of-Knowledge/Martill-Schindler/p/book/9780367074944.
  • Azmanova, A. (2019). Late Capitalism. In: Amy, A. and Eduardo, M. eds. The Cambridge Habermas Lexicon. Cambridge University Press, pp. 230-234. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316771303.
  • Azmanova, A. (2019). Karl Marx (1818–1883). In: Allen, A. and Mendieta, E. eds. The Cambridge Habermas Lexicon. Cambridge University Press, pp. 616-620. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316771303.
  • Azmanova, A. (2019). Andrew Arato (1944– ). In: Allen, A. and Eduardo, M. eds. The Cambridge Habermas Lexicon. Cambridge University Press. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316771303.
  • Azmanova, A. (2017). The Crisis of ’the Crisis of Europe’. In: Amin, A. and Lewis, P. eds. European Union and Disunion: Reflections on European Identity. London: British Academy, pp. 41-46. Available at: https://wolfgangstreeck.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/british-academy2017_european-union-and-disunion.pdf.
    This is a contribution to a symposium at the British Academy on 4 November 2016 to discuss Europe after Brexit. I argue that although Brexit had much to do with the neoliberal policy package that triggered the 2008-2009 social and economic meltdown, the policies of crisis management have transformed the crisis into a new normal -- a phenomenon I call 'crisis-of-crisis'. To exit this conundrum, we need to tackle the massive economic and social uncertainty through building what I call a 'political economy of trust'.
  • Azmanova, A. (2016). Democracy Against Social Reform: the Arab ‘Spring’ Faces its Demons. In: Mohammed Cherkaoui, Ed. What Is Enlightenment?: Continuity or Rupture in the Wake If the Arab Uprisings, London: Lexington Books (April 2016). London: Lexington books, pp. 239 -254. Available at: https://rowman.com/ISBN/9780739193679/What-Is-Enlightenment?-Continuity-or-Rupture-in-the-Wake-of-the-Arab-Uprisings.
  • Azmanova, A. (2014). Soziale Gerechtigkeit und die verschiedenen Varianten des Kapitalismus. In: Honneth, A. and Herzog, L. eds. Der Wert Des Marktes. Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag. Available at: http://www.suhrkamp.de/buecher/der_wert_des_marktes-_29665.html.
    This is a contribution ot a collection of classical texts on capitalism, from Adam Smith, G.W.F.Hegel, K. Marx, E. Durkheim, J.S. Mill, A. Sen, and A. Hirschman.
  • Azmanova, A. (2013). The ‘Crisis of Capitalism’ and the State – More Powerful, Less Responsible, Invariably Legitimate. In: Onuf, N., Lemay-Hébert, N., Raki?, V. and Bojani?, P. eds. Semantics of Statebuilding: Language, Meanings and Sovereignty. London: Routledge, pp. 150-162. Available at: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415817295/.
    This chapter traces the reconfiguration of the legitimacy relationship between states and citizens, and the related alteration of the semantics of the social contract since the advent of liberal democracies in Europe. This reconfiguration has fostered the recent emergence of a fourth modality of capitalism (as an institutionalized social order) after (1) the entrepreneurial nineteenth-century capitalism, (2) the ‘organized’ capitalism of the post-WWII welfare state, and (3) the neoliberal, ‘disorganized’ capitalism of the late twentieth century. A key feature of the new modality, in terms of the nature of power relations, is a simultaneous increase in the state’s administrative power and a decrease in its authority. However, due to a recasting of the legitimacy relationship between public authority and citizens, the deficient authority of states has not triggered a legitimacy crisis of the socio-economic system. A readjustment of the pathological relationship (from the point of view of democratic legitimacy) between public authority and citizens would require a stronger responsibilization of public authority in matters of social and economic policy.
  • Azmanova, A. (2012). Social Harm, Political Judgment, and the Pragmatics of Universal Justification. In: Corradetti, C. ed. Philosophical Dimensions of Human Rights: Some Contemporary Views. Springer, pp. 107-123. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-2376-4_6.
    How is to be policy action guided in cases of conflict among basic rights? The clash among rights of equal standing within a society’s broad conception of justice is often articulated in the terms of unfairness. By drawing a distinction between justice and fairness, and by exploring the pragmatics of justification in cases of conflicts among rights, this chapter adumbrates a discourse-theoretic model of political judgment – what I name ‘critical deliberative judgment’. The parameters of this model emerge first from a particular reconstitution of Critical Theory (as a tradition of social philosophy) that focuses attention on the emancipation-oriented, rather than on the consensus-generating, dimension of rights: the question “What is justice?” gives precedence to “Who suffers?”. The model is further elaborated by way of a pragmatist political epistemology that accounts for the way specific experiences of injustice affect publics’ identification of what issues count as relevant ones in debates over conflicting rights. Finally, the model is completed with an account of the critical and emancipatory work democratic practices of open dialogue are able to perform, ultimately relating local sensitivities to universal demands of justice by disclosing the socio-structural (rather that agent-specific or culture-specific) sources of injustice.
  • Azmanova, A. (2006). Democratization, Economic transition and sustainable development: A perspective from the EU’s new member states. In: Pallemaerts, M. and Azmanova, A. eds. The European Union and Sustainable Development: Internal and External Diimensions. Brussels, Belgium: ASP Vub Press.

Conference or workshop item

  • Azmanova, A. (2015). The Crisis of ’the Crisis of Capitalism’. In: Public Lecture at the London School of Economics and University of California.
    Where is the coveted, prophesied, dreaded crisis of capitalism? Why has the economic and social turmoil that recently afflicted Western democracies triggered such faint attempts to replace the apparently moribund socio-economic model? The alleged crisis of capitalism, I claim, has been a catalyst in the metamorphosis of neoliberal capitalism – a transmutation that began well before the recent economic meltdown and in many ways triggered it. This has led to the emergence of a fourth historical modality of capitalism, which I call ‘aggregative capitalism’ (after the entrepreneurial nineteenth-century capitalism, the ‘organized’ capitalism of the post-WWII welfare state, and the neoliberal, ‘disorganized’ capitalism of the late twentieth century). In this lecture, I trace the features of this new form of capitalism and the dynamics that activate it. Based on a public lecture at the London School of Economics (4 Nov. 2014) and University of California, Berkeley (22 Jan. 2015).
  • Azmanova, A. (2011). Social Injustice and the Pragmatics of Universal Justification. In: APSA Annual Meeting, Seattle 2011.
    By articulating the pragmatics of justification in cases of conflicts among basic rights, this paper endeavors to solve the tension between the seeming political vacuity of abstract moral universalism and the seeming parochialism of theories sensitive to cultural context. This solution emerges within a discourse-theoretic model of political judgment - what I name “critical deliberative judgment”. Its parameters are elaborated first in a reconstitution of Critical Theory (as a tradition of social philosophy) that focuses attention on the emancipatory, rather than the conciliatory dimensions of judgment. The model is further elaborated by way of replacing the reliance on ideal theory of justice with a pragmatist political epistemology. The latter accounts for the way specific experiences of injustice affect publics' identification of what counts as relevant issues in debates over conflicting rights. Finally, the model is completed with an account of the critical and emancipatory work that democratic practices of open dialogue are able to perform, ultimately relating local sensitivities to universal demands of justice by disclosing the structural (rather that agent-specific or culture-specific) sources of social evil.
  • Azmanova, A. (2007). Risks, Opportunities and the Social Technology of Political Judgment in the Times of the New Economy. In: Annual Colloquium in Critical Theory.
    A framework of political judgment has been rapidly emerging in recent years, linking, within its normative and cognitive parameters, the liberalization of the international compact (‘disembedded liberalism’) with policies of labour re-commodifiction in advanced industrial democracies. This paper attempts to expose the social technology of political judgment enabling the trans-ideological consensus in support of re-commodification. Bringing political economy (back) into the project of discourse theory, this analysis relates the framework of judgment guiding policy choices to the aggregate social impact of the new economy, expressed politically in an emerging electoral re-alignment across Europe. My leading hypothesis is that a new opportunity-risk vector of alignment, styled by attitudes to globalisation, is opting out to replace the capital-labour dynamics of conflict and consensus that underpinned the welfare state. This realignment is now shaping the cognitive and normative frameworks of valid political reason-formation within national polities.

    I propose to see the particular social technology that alters the parameters of political judgment in terms of interaction between three elements: 1) the social basis of political interest articulation; 2) collective perceptions of relevant public goods (the demand side of political mobilisation); 3) the patterned policy response of political actors (the supply side of political mobilisation).

    The dynamics of interaction between these three elements are incurring (within a constitutive, rather than causal, logic) long-term changes in the normative and cognitive frameworks of post-industrial societies. These changes ultimately direct (enable and constrain) the articulation of justice claims within a socially meaningful framework of valid political reason-formation.
  • Azmanova, A. (2007). The risk-opportunity cleavage and the transformation of Europe’s main political families. In: ECPR General Conference.
    Analyses of the last two rounds of general elections in the EU (old) 15 member-states, as well as of the 1999 and 2004 European elections, reveal some of the symptoms of what Key and Burnham called "critical elections": elections that mark a sudden, considerable and lasting realignment in the electorate, leading to the formation of new electoral majorities. I explore the hypothesis that these series of critical elections at the turn of the century are triggering a radical realignment under the pressures of a new fault-line of conflict aggregation -- one shaped by attitudes to globalization. As a result, an opportunity-risk cleavage is emerging which is challenging, and opting out to replace, the capital-labor dynamics of conflict that have shaped the main political families in Europe over the 20th century. This paper traces the dynamics of realignment in terms of shifts at four levels: 1) The public agenda of political mobilization; 2) The social composition of electoral constituencies 3) the ideological basis of party competition. On this basis, an alignment is taking place, on the one hand between the centre-left and centre-right midpoint around an "opportunity" pole and, on the other, the circumference of far-right and radical-left parties around a "risk" pole. To what extend will these pressures of realignment manage to unfreeze (in reference to Rokkan and Lipset) the established party-political constellations in nation-states remains to the determined. However, tensions between the analyzed pressures of realignment and existing institutionalized forms of political representation go a long way in explaining the current crisis within both Social Democracy and European Conservatism, as well as the rise of new forms of populism in Europe.
  • Azmanova, A. (2007). On the EU-US special relationship: how the West can shape the global political economy in 16 years. In: Academia Diplomatica Europaea.

Edited book

  • Azmanova, A. (2015). Reclaiming Democracy: Judgment, Responsibility and the Right to Politics. [Online]. Azmanova, A. and Mihai, M. eds. UK: Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Reclaiming-Democracy-Judgment-Responsibility-and-the-Right-to-Politics/Azmanova-Mihai/p/book/9781138021990.
    Democracy is in shambles economically and politically. The recent economic meltdown in Europe and the U.S. has substituted democratic deliberation with technocratic decisions. In Athens, Madrid, Lisbon, New York, Pittsburgh or Istanbul, protesters have denounced the incapacity and unwillingness of elected officials to heed to their voices.

    While the diagnosis of our political-economic illness has been established, remedies are hard to come. What can we do to restore our broken democracy? Which modes of political participation are likely to have an impact? And what are the loci of political innovation in the wake of the crisis? It is with these questions that Reclaiming Democracy engages. We argue that the managerial approach to solving the crisis violates ‘a right to politics’, that is, a right that our collective life be guided by meaningful politics: by discussion of and decision among genuinely alternative principles and policies. The contributors to this volume are united in their commitment to explore how and where this right can be affirmed in a way that resuscitates democracy in the wake of the crisis. Mixing theoretical reflection and empirical analysis the book offers fresh insights into democracy’s current conundrum and makes concrete proposals about how ‘the right to politics’ can be protected.
  • Azmanova, A. and Pallemaerts, M. eds. (2006). The European Union and Sustainable Development: Internal and External Dimensions. Brussels, Belgium: Politeia/VUB Brussels University Press.
    Apart from the editing work, my contribution to this book consists in a chapter and co-authorship of the introduction. The chapter deal with the impact of EU accession on sustainable development in the post-communist countries. I argue that factors such as market opening, economic liberalisation, weak state capacity for policy planning and implementation, as well as the particular form of civil societies in Eastern Europe (the union between employers and workers interests against costly environmental standards) have considerably minimised the positive impact of EU accession.

    The volume provides the most comprehensive study, so far, on EU Sustainable Development policy. My co-editor is a renown scholar in the field of Environmental policy.
  • Hadfield, A. (2006). The Role of Energy in Sustainable Development: Greening the Environment and Securing Energy Supply. Pallemaerts, M. and Azmanova, A. eds. Brussels, Belgium: Brussels University Press.
    This article examines the role of energy within the environmental discourse of the EU. The article argues that energy is the newest form of EU foreign policy and without a collective policy stance the EU’s ability to be an effective ‘green actor’ will be significantly undermined.

Internet publication

  • Azmanova, A. (2018). The European Left’s Machiavellian Moment: Notes on Costas Douzinas’ Syriza in Power. Reflections of an Accidental Politician [internet publication]. Available at: https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/albena-azmanova/european-left-s-machiavellian-moment-notes-on-costas-douzinas-syr.
    Review of Costas Douzinas, Syriza in Power: Reflections of an Accidental Politician (Polity, 2017)
  • Azmanova, A. (2018). Agent Sabina: On the Abjection of Julia Kristeva [internet publication]. Available at: https://www.eurozine.com/agent-sabina-abjection-julia-kristeva/.
    Julia Kristeva’s recently released secret service files reveal a similar persona to that which comes through her writing: unruly, witty, courageous. And yet Kristeva is denying the allegations. Is it something other than the truth that she fears?
  • Azmanova, A. and Spinelli, B. (2017). “Upholding the Rule of Law in the European Union”: An Open Letter to EU Presidents Juncker and Tusk [internet publication]. Available at: https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/barbara-spinelli-et-al/upholding-rule-of-law-in-european-union.
    This Open Letter was co-authored with Barbara Spinelli, member of European Parliament, to protest EU's failure to sanction the Spanish government for the manner in which it handled the Catalan independence referendum of 1 October 2017. The letter was signed by some 200 eminent scholars and members of EU Parliament; it was submitted via the European Parliament on 3 Nov 2017.
  • Azmanova, A. (2017). Abuse Of The Rule Of Law In The EU [internet publication]. Available at: https://www.socialeurope.eu/abuse-rule-law-european-union.
    The article warns against the legalistic and sovereignist interpretation of the ‘rule of law’ in EU decisional bodies' response to the Spanish's government's handling of the Catalan independence referendum in October 2017. This became the basis for the Open Letter submitted through the European Parliament to the Presidents of the European Commission and European Council on 3 Nov. 2017.


  • Azmanova, A. (2019). The clash that never was: Debating Islam, the myth of civilizations and democracy’s realities. Philosophy and Social Criticism [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0191453719839454.
    This is a review of the book Towards New Democratic Imaginaries – Istanbul Seminars on Islam, Culture and Politics, edited by Seyla Benhabib and Volker Kaul (Springer, 2017). It relates the genesis of the Istanbul Seminars and discusses their intellectual and political rationale. It then articulates some of the intellectual approaches, analytical perspectives, and ingredients for critical analysis the 30 contributions to the volume bring in the search of new political imaginaries able to solve the simultaneous crises of democracy and of Islam, of politics and religion.


  • Razakamaharavo, V. (2018). Unveiling the Puzzle of Conflict Recurrence through the Prism of Conflict Transformation. Madagascar: From the Colonial Period to 2016.
    The conflict trajectory in the cases of Madagascar features highly unstable dynamics composed of various shifts (and no shift) of conflict stages. With nine main successive episodes of conflict spanning a long period of time (the colonial period to 2016), dynamics of escalation, de-escalation and stability (where the level of conflict remains the same) are building up the cycles of peace/conflict processes in this country. The present manuscript studies conflict recurrence in Madagascar and mainly argues that peace is multi-leveled throughout the cycles. Starting from that viewpoint, the concept of conflict transformation is used in explaining the ebbs and flows at play constructing the conflict trajectory. An innovative as well as original conceptual and methodological approach to the study of conflicts, weaving together Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and in-depth narrative analysis was applied. Reactive and non-reactive methods were used to collect the data, which, after being tested with fsQCA, Tosmana and R software, were examined by conducting conflict analysis, semiotics, public policy studies and critical discourse analysis. The Units of analysis in the research design allowing the study of the dynamics of conflict recurrence in Madagascar were the structural factors and parts of the mechanism pertaining to :a) conflict dimensions (cultural, socio-demographic and economic, political and global external), b) repertoires of action the conflicting parties used throughout the shifts (or no shift) of conflict stages, c) their framings of the conflicts, d) the boundary construction of the self/the other and e) the accommodation policies as well as f) the metanarratives and local narratives. On the whole peace and conflict processes in Madagascar.
  • Kumar, R. (2017). Constructing Security: A Relational Mapping of the EU Security Market.
    The present research provides a study of the growing EU (border) security market. It demonstrates how the practices of the security market elude commonly made distinctions of public/private,
    internal/external, civil/military and security/defence dichotomies. It underlines the significance of collaboration, convergences and circulations as the dynamics behind the
    growth of the EU security market. In particular, it focuses on the collaboration of private actors with their public counterparts. Leveraging Bourdieu's notion of 'field', this research maps
    the variety of actors involved in the EU security market, focusing on the questions of domination, transversality, gravitational forces and conflict. It outlines convergences between public/private
    by highlighting shareholding patterns of the companies, their cross-sectoral competencies, circulation of personnel and routinized activities of lobbying, marketing, and sales
    through which they construct the security market. Further, utilizing the concept of 'habitus' and 'capital', this research analyzes the career trajectories and biographies of the security professionals,
    including raising questions of gender and generation that differentiate the field of security. Furthermore, by examining a range of terms and phrases, it explores the vocabulary
    of security - the security lexicon - which is employed by the security professionals to further the global (in)security doxa. Methodologically, my research draws upon interviews with over
    60 security professionals working with security companies, EU bodies, research institutes, law firms and lobbying consultancies, along with participant observation at high-level security conferences
    and security exhibitions. This study seeks to reveal the obscured relations and motivations, profit motives and politics explaining the dynamics of the growing security market,
    which raise questions of accountability, responsibility and transparency that are circumvented through these (blurring) practices.
  • Anyaeze, R. (2015). Presidential Term Limits in African Post-Cold War Democracies: The Role of Political Elites.
    Why have attempts to repeal presidential term limits succeeded in some African countries and failed in others? What measures and pressures were required to demand and enforce presidential term limits compliance? The lack of precise and effective strategy to enforce term limits compliance seems to expose term limits to incipient repeals by incumbent presidents in Africa.
    My field observation in various African democracies shows that the parliament, the judiciary, democracy movements and the international community, though occasionally influential, have not played a decisive role in enforcing term limits compliance in Africa. Their roles rather appear to be dependent on elite dissidence, resistance, sponsorship and sometimes manipulation. My fieldwork in Zambia, Nigeria and Malawi reveals the critical influence and role of political elites in mobilizing and converging pressures to demand and enforce compliance. These cases further find that a compliance outcome becomes possible if individual political elites choose to resist any incumbent president seeking to repeal term limits. The ability of dissenting elites to provide an alternative platform for the convergence of other pressures raise the cost of repression for presidents and force them to compliance.
    Since othe pressures achor around elite dissidence, the position of some political elites either for or against the removal of term limits explains why some presidents have succeeded and why others failed in repealing term limits in Africa.

Visual media

  • Azmanova, A. (2011). On the Politics of Fear (interview). [Online]. Available at: http://www.resetdoc.org/story/00000021600/format/html.
    To be competitive in a globalized world, countries have started to deregulate and liberalize their economies, states have given up their responsibilities for economic policies, and individual citizens have become entirely responsible for their survival. To what extent is today’s growing xenophobia, nourished by widespread politics of fear, linked to this age of economic uncertainty? On the occasion of the Istanbul Seminars, ResetDoc has interviewed Albena Azmanova on these issues.
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