Kornprobst, Markus, and Senn, Martin.
Kornprobst, Markus, and Martin Senn. "Arguing deep ideational change." Contemporary Politics 23.1 (2017): 100-119.
Publication year: 2017

Arguing Deep Ideational Change

By Markus Kornprobst and Martin Senn



How do actors come to contest previously uncontested background ideas? This is a difficult question to ask. On the one hand, deep backgrounds seem to be too foundational for actors to transform. Their political efficacy appears to end where ideas constitute their efficacy in the first place. On the other hand, ideas must not be reified. Even deeply taken-for-granted ideas do not always stay the same, and agents have a lot to do with these changes. In order to answer this question, we draw from social theory and rhetorical studies. We conceptualize the deep background as nomos, and the more easily accessible background as endoxa. We then proceed to identify three sets of conditions that make nomic change possible. These relate to opportunity, message, and messenger. Nomic change becomes possible when the need for something new has become widely established and a supply of new nomic ideas is easily available (opportunity); new nomic ideas are ‘smuggled’ into more orthodox and widely resonating arguments (message) as well as rhetorical encounters in which these arguments are made; and advocates are widely recognised as interlocutors (messenger). A plausibility probe of nomic contestation about nuclear governance provides evidence for this framework.



  • argumentation
  • change
  • governance
  • justification
  • rhetoric
  • nuclear weapons



Last draft before final version and publication in Contemporary Politics 23/1 (2017) [with Martin Senn] {in special issue: The Politics of Public Justification, edited with Uriel Abulof}. Reprinted in Communication, Legitimation and Morality


Full bibliographical details: Kornprobst, Markus, and Martin Senn. „Arguing deep ideational change.“ Contemporary Politics 23.1 (2017): 100-119.