New book Introducing Relational Political Analysis (2020) co-authored by Selg

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash.

In September 2020 Peeter Selg (Professor of Political Theory, Tallinn University, Estonia) and Andreas Ventsel (Senior Researcher of Semiotics, University of Tartu, Estonia) published a 319 (+ xviii) page monograph Introducing Relational Political Analysis: Political Semiotics as a Theory and Method (Palgrave Macmillan). The book synthesizes into a systematic whole the research on relational political analysis and political semiotics that the authors have been conducting over the past decade. The ambition of the book is not only to provide an overview of possible trajectories of research for advancing relational political analysis, but to put forth a particular relational political theory, develop its methodological consequences, propose a concrete method of relational political analysis – the political form analysis – and illustrate its applications. It is the first monograph that offers an approach to political power, governance and democracy that is relational throughout, starting from its (meta)theoretical premises, methodological foundations, and culminating in suggesting methods for empirical research.

The book has already been acknowledged internationally: it received endorsements from Prof. Bob Jessop who is one of the most eminent state and governance theorists alive; Prof. Mark Bevir, one of the most influential proponents of interpretive political science; and Acad. Prof. Pertti Alasuutari, one of the leading experts in social and political research methodology who has for nearly a decade by now been working on the conception of epistemic governance.

“In this meticulous relational account of political semiosis, Selg and Ventsel offer an original account of the constitutive power of communication that goes beyond the Essex school of discourse analysis and the

Tartu-Moscow school of cultural semiotics. They analyze the articulation of hegemony in power, governance, and democratic regimes as mediated through public communication. They also provide a provocative explanation of threats to digital identity cards in Estonia. This challenging book merits close attention.”

—Bob Jessop, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Lancaster University, UK


“Peeter Selg and Andreas Ventsel’s new book is a terrific addition to the growing field of interpretive political science. Their political semiotics emphasises the role of meanings and communication in politics while rightly emphasizing their relational nature. They also include a useful guide to some of the concrete methods by which researchers can explore such meanings. This is an important contribution to the field.”

—Mark Bevir, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for British Studies, University of California, Berkeley, USA


“Peeter Selg and Andreas Ventsel have written a truly marvelous, entertaining and humorous, yet analytically clear introduction to relational political analysis. Opposing relationalism to positivist substantialism, which considers elements as primary and relations secondary, the authors point out that political semiotics treats relations between social entities as constitutive of those very entities. Hitting the nail right on the head, Selg and Ventsel maintain that a hammer would not be a hammer without a nail. I recommend this book for anyone wanting to conduct better social and political research.”

—Pertti Alasuutari, Academy Professor of Sociology, Tampere University, Finland


The monograph is part of the book series “Palgrave Studies in Relational Sociology” edited by Nick Crossley (University of Manchester, UK) and Peeter Selg (Tallinn University, Estonia).