The Common in Hardt and Negri: Substantiating the concept through its urban, digital and political moments

  • Kelvin Charles

Student thesis: Phd


The concept of the common, found in Hardt and Negri, provides the possibility of theorising struggle that avoids the critiques that suggest Empire remains intangible, ethereal and postmodern. The concept, however, remains fragmentarily developed by the authors themselves, and is rarely the subject of sustained analysis in the secondary literature. Therefore, in order to substantiate the concept, I consider the common through three distinct moments which I identify as the urban, digital and political moments. This task is achieved through theoretical interlocutions and reflections on the 2011 Occupy movement. Throughout this thesis, and through each moment of the common, I argue that the concept must be understood as distinctly physical. Firstly, struggles over the urban common revolve around the physical (re)production of ideas, knowledge, culture and relationships in urban environments. Whilst the digital common often implies a lack of physicality, I argue that the common offers a means of thinking social media and perpetual connectivity primarily as a process of transforming the way humans engage with one another and their environments, and the radical possibilities therein. I argue that these moments of the common necessitate the development of an appropriate political moment of the common. Through centring on the physicality of struggle, Hardt and Negri’s concept of the common is substantiated whilst contributing to wider debates in the field of radical theory and social movements.
Date of Award31 Dec 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorGreig Charnock (Supervisor) & Carl Death (Supervisor)


  • urban
  • digital
  • social movements
  • Negri
  • Hardt
  • common

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