Share with your friends

portfolio_page-template-default,single,single-portfolio_page,postid-27,stockholm-core-1.2.2,qodef-qi--no-touch,qi-addons-for-elementor-1.6.3,select-theme-ver-9.4,boxed,,qode_menu_,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.3.0,vc_responsive,elementor-default,elementor-kit-840

Watch the Video

Being Social: Ontology, Law, Politics


Daniel Matthews (University of Hong Kong) Tara Mulqueen (Birkbeck, University of London)

B & W  229 x 152 mm | Perfect Bound on White w/Matte Laminate |  144 pages | Paperback ISBN 978-1-910761-00-7 | E-book (PDF) ISBN N/A | 25 February 2015

Purchase Paperback

Being Social is available from Blackwell’s (UK) and other major online bookshops internationally at a recommended retail price of 10.00 GBP.

Download E-Book


An e-book (PDF) of Being Social is available for sale at a recommended price of 5 GBP.  If you are unable to pay this price, we are pleased to offer you the option to pay what you can. The minimum payment the system can accept is 1.00 GBP. Any currency conversion is viewable before final payment. Once you have paid, you should receive the link within a few minutes. If you do not,  please check your spam folder. In case of any other problems, contact us here. Finally, if you are unable to pay at all, please use the 'fair access' option below.

I agree with the Terms & Conditions
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. In summary, you are free to share and adapt this work for non-commercial purposes and with due attribution. This summary is not a substitute for the full license. If there is any doubt as to whether a specific purpose is non-commercial, please request permission by writing to To view a full copy of this license, visit

COUNTERPRESS aims at making high quality academic books accessible to all regardless of personal wealth. If you wish to share this electronic version, please consider supporting us by sharing the original download page, which provides the reader with an option to pay what you can:

The email you submit will not be used for any purpose other than to send you your download link. See our privacy policy at the foot of the page. If you wish to follow us / subscribe to notifications, please do so via the 'follow us' menu option.


Being Social brings together leading and emerging scholars on the question of sociality in poststructuralist thought. The essays collected in this volume examine a sense of the social which resists final determination and closure, embracing an anxiety and undecidability of sociality, rather than effacing it. Through issues including queer politics, migration, and Guantanamo, recent events such as the occupation of Gezi Park in Istanbul, and theoretical explorations of themes such as writing, law, and democracy, contributors assess how a reconfigured sociality affects thinking and practice in the legal and political realms. With a particular emphasis on Jean-Luc Nancy, whose work brings questions of community to the fore, these essays explore how the consistent ‘unworking’ of sociality informs the tenor and form of political debate and engagement.


What this book shows are the very real changes that have occurred, and are occurring, in the disparate moments of critical legal praxis; where the exposure of legal frameworks to the voices and actions of diverse practices and groups re-inscribe the groundlessness of that ground upon which the law must tread.

—  Dr Samuel Kirwan, Social and Legal Studies (2016), 258

… the thematic tightness of the volume provides it with real intellectual coherence and serves the vital function of offering a sustained engagement with the thought of Jean-Luc Nancy. The volume thus succeeds in bridging an important interdisciplinary gap between legal scholarship and contemporary continental philosophy and in introducing Nancy to a potentially new audience.

— Professor Jack Jackson,  Law, Culture and the Humanities (2016), 794

table of contents

Introduction (Tara Mulqueen & Daniel Matthews)

Part I: Grounds of the Social

1. The Ground of Being Social (Ian James)

2. Being Social in ‘Law and Society’ (Peter Fitzpatrick)

3. The Meaning of Sense (Pieter Meurs and Ignaas Devisch)

Part II: Acts of the Social

4. Being Social Democratically with Jean-Luc Nancy at the Gezi Park Protests  (Marie-Eve Morin)

5. The Queer Experience of Singular Finitude (Tara Mulqueen)

6. Labour and Migration in the ‘Suspended Step’ (Anastasia Tataryn)

7. Survival’s Witness: Poetry, Sociality, Community (Patrick Hanafin)

8. On the Law of Originary Sociability or Writing the Law  (Daniel Matthews)


author bios

Ignaas Devisch is Professor of Philosophy and Ethics at Ghent University (Belgium). He publishes on social philosophy and the philosophy of medicine, and is the author of Jean-Luc Nancy and the Question of Community (Bloomsbury Press, 2012).

Peter Fitzpatrick is currently Anniversary Professor of Law at Birkbeck, University of London. He has taught at universities in Europe, North America, and Papua New Guinea and published books on legal philosophy, law and social theory, law and racism, and imperialism.

Patrick Hanafin is Professor of Law at Birkbeck, University of London, where he also directs the Law School’s Centre for Law and the Humanities. His research engages with questions of law and the biopolitical, law and literature, human rights and citizenship, and the construction of community and identity. Of his many books, the most recent is, with Rosi Braidotti and Bolette Blaagaard, After Cosmopolitanism (Routledge, 2013).

Ian James is Reader in Modern French Literature and Thought at Downing College, University of Cambridge. He specializes in twentieth-century and contemporary French literature and philosophy. His many books include: The Fragmentary Demand: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Jean-Luc Nancy (Stanford University Press, 2006) and more recently, The New French Philosophy (Polity, 2012).

Daniel Matthews is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Hong Kong. His primary research interests are in legal theory and law and literature. His current work assesses questions of jurisdiction, drawing on resources from law, literature and continental philosophy, with a particular focus on deconstruction. He is a member of the editorial committee of the journal Law and Critique and a regular contributor to Critical Legal Thinking, a blog dedicated to the radical critique of law and politics.

Pieter Meurs completed his PhD on Jean-Luc Nancy and globalization at the Centre Leo Apostel (Free University Brussels) in 2013. He has presented and published papers on phenomenology, critical theory, and Jean-Luc Nancy. His current research focuses on contemporary continental political philosophy

Marie-Eve Morin is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Her research interests include phenomenology, existentialism, and deconstruction. She is the author of Jean-Luc Nancy (Polity Press, 2012), as well as articles on Heidegger, Sartre, Derrida, Nancy, and Sloterdijk. She is currently working on a comparative study of Nancy’s and Merleau- Ponty’s ontologies in light of the speculative realist challenge.

Tara Mulqueen is a doctoral candidate in law at Birkbeck, University of London. Her thesis concerns the creation of legislation for co-operatives in 19th century Britain, and the sources and significance of the particular form of recognition they received. In addition, she has researched and published on issues of gender and sexuality and social movements. She is also interested in questions of access to justice and community education.

Anastasia Tataryn teaches at Warwick Law School, University of Warwick and has previously taught at Birkbeck, University of London, where she is also completing her PhD. Drawing on legal theory and continental philosophy, her research focuses on labour and employment law, particularly with regards to precarious work in the UK and what it means to think differently about current political crises and legal grey areas.

how to cite

Example using Chicago Manual of Style:


Daniel Matthews and Tara Mulqueen, eds., Being Social: Ontology, Law, Politics (Oxford: Counterpress, 2015).


Matthews, Daniel, and Tara Mulqueen. Being Social: Ontology, Law, Politics. Oxford: Counterpress, 2015.