Dr Mark Wenman

Dr Mark Wenman

Associate Professor in Political Theory
Director of Education for the College of Social Sciences

Contact details

School of Government
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT


  • PhD Politics, 2005 (Essex)
  • MSc Politics and Sociology, 1996 (London)
  • BA Social Science, 1995 (Westminster)


Mark Wenman joined POLSIS in January 2016. His previous post was at the University of Nottingham, where he taught political theory for over ten years, and where he was also Warden of Derby, Lincoln, and Sherwood Halls. Mark was educated at Christ’s Hospital, the University of Westminster, Birkbeck Colleague, and he completed his PhD in the Ideology and Discourse Analysis programme at the University of Essex in 2005. During this period, he had the good fortune to have been taught by a number of leading political theorists, including John Keane, Paul Hirst, Ernesto Laclau, Aletta Norval and David Howarth. Mark's area of expertise is contemporary political theory, and at Nottingham he was a founding member, and later Director, of CONCEPT. Mark's monograph - entitled Agonistic Democracy: constituent power in the era of globalisation - was published with Cambridge in 2013. 


  • POLS G63H - Democracy, Power and Citizenship

Postgraduate supervision

Mark is an experienced PhD supervisor, and has seen numerous students through to completion.

Mark is keen to take on new students, with projects that correspond broadly with his research interests.


Research interests

Continental philosophy; contemporary political theory; the philosophy of the social sciences; the history of political thought.

Specifically – twentieth and twenty first century theories of democracy; theories of political pluralism; post-structuralism; agonistic democracy; the work of Hannah Arendt; critical cosmopolitanism.

Recent Projects

Until recently, the focal point of Mark’s work has been the notion of ‘agonistic democracy’. This has been elaborated in a series of papers published in leading academic journals and culminating in the publication of Agonistic Democracy: constituent power in the era of globalisation, published with Cambridge University Press in 2013.

This book delivers the first systematic account of agonistic democracy, as well as an assessment of the leading contemporary theorists of agonism: William Connolly, James Tully, Chantal Mouffe and Bonnie Honig. The contemporary theorists are evaluated through a critical framework that is derived primarily from Hannah Arendt, and with particular reference to her conceptions of revolution and augmentation, as well as her unique understanding of political judgement.

Current projects

In his current research, Mark is developing the notion of ‘militant cosmopolitanism’. This is motivated in part by a critique of the prevailing liberal theories of cosmopolitanism (Kantian style theories of ‘justice beyond borders’ etc.), but this project is also constructive, and seeks to develop an alternative, more radical mode of cosmopolitanism; one that can respond in a more resolute fashion to the overlapping crises associated with neo-liberalism.

The project considers a wide range of issues associated with neo-liberal globalisation, especially – increasing global inequality, (post) political disenchantment, bio-politics, and the resurgence of religion.

The research invokes theoretical reference points from across contemporary political theory, and the history of political thought, and works through a cluster of conceptual issues including: how to rethink cosmopolitanism, world citizenship, and universalism in light of a theory of reflective judgement.

Other activities

From January 2019

  • Mark is Head of Education in the School of Government




Wenman, M. A. (2013) Agonistic Democracy: constituent power in the era of globalisation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Refereed Journal Articles

Khan, G. and Wenman, M. (2017) ‘The Politics of Poststructuralism Today’ in Political Studies Review 15 (4): 513-515.

Wenman, M. (2017) ‘Much Ado About ‘Nothing’: Evaluating Three Immanent Critiques of Poststructuralism’ in Political Studies Review 15 (4): 564-576. 

Wenman, M. A. (2015) 'William E. Connolly: Resuming The Pluralist Tradition in American Political Science' in Political Theory 43 (1): 54-79.

Wenman, M. A. (2014) 'On the Risk and Opportunity in the Mouffean Encounter with Carl Schmitt' in Parallax. 20 (2): 88-99.

Wenman, M. A. (2008) 'On the Young Hirst: A Rejoinder to Edwards and Knight' in Political Studies 56 (4): 964-969.           

Wenman, M. A. (2008) 'Agonism, Pluralism and Contemporary Capitalism: an Interview with William E. Connolly' in Contemporary Political Theory 7 (2): 200-219.         

Wenman, M. A. (2008) 'William Connolly: Pluralism without Transcendence' in The British Journal of Politics and International Relations 10 (2): 156-170.

Wenman, M. A. (2008) 'Militant Universalism or Radical Liberal Democracy?' in The Journal of Power 1 (3): 390-395.    

Wenman, M. A. (2007) 'English Pluralism, Functionalism, and Corporatism: the Legacy of Paul Hirst' in Political Studies 55 (4): 801-820.        

Wenman, M. A. (2003) 'Laclau or Mouffe? Splitting the Difference' in Philosophy and Social Criticism 29 (5): 581-606.

Wenman, M. A. (2003) ''Agonistic Pluralism' and Three Archetypal Forms of Politics' in Contemporary Political Theory 2 (2): 165-186.

Wenman, M. A. (2003) 'What is Politics? The Approach of Radical Pluralism' in Politics 23 (1): 57-65.

Chapters in Books

Wenman, M. (2018) ‘Poststructuralism’ in Vivien Lowndes, David Marsh, and Gerry Stoker (eds.) Theory and Methods in Political Science. London: Palgrave. 

Wenman, M. A. (2015), 'Cosmopolitanism Without Banisters: Humanism, Agonism, and World Disclosure' in Tamara Caraus and Elena Paris (eds.) Re-Grounding Cosmopolitanism: towards a post-foundational cosmopolitanism. London: Routledge.

Wenman, M. A. (2014) 'Secularism, Agonism and the politics of Conviction' in Brian Black, Gavin Hyman, and Graham Smith (ed.) Confronting Secularism in Europe and India: Legitimacy and Disenchantment in Contemporary Times. London and New York: Bloomsbury.

Wenman, M. A. (2014) 'Mouffe, Chantal' in Michael Gibbons et al (eds.) The Encyclopaedia of Political Thought Wiley-Blackwell.

Wenman, M. A. (2012) 'Pluralism, Capitalism and the Fragility of Things' in Gary Browning et al (eds.) Dialogues with Contemporary Political Theorists. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Wenman, M. A. (2008) 'Hegemony and Globalist Strategy' in Adrian Little and Moya Lloyd (eds.) The Politics of Radical Democracy. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Wenman, M. A. (2005) 'Power' in Iain MacKenzie (ed.) Political Concepts: A Reader and a Guide Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

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