The politics of misery: a philosophical investigation of the political relevance of mental suffering

Year of award: 2015


  • Dan Degerman

    Lancaster University

Project summary

This project is an interdisciplinary work involving political philosophy, political thought and psychiatry, and the philosophy of medicine. It will employ philosophical analysis and historical research methods to investigate how the relationship between misery and political agency has changed in the UK over the past century, and evaluate the implications of any changes. 

I have identified three aspects of misery – sadness, anxiety and anger – that have all been medicalised. I will analyse the historical relationship between political agency and these emotions during the second industrial revolution in the nascence of democracy, and their role in the late 20th century. I will contrast these findings against the historical analysis to theorise the effects of medicalised misery upon agency. 

The goals of this research are to increase understanding of the relationship between negative emotions and political agency, and propose how we can enhance political agency of citizens.