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Social justice in the age of identity politics: Redistribution, recognition, participation


  • Fraser, Nancy


Today, claims for social justice seem to divide into two types: claims for the redistribution of resources and claims for the recognition of cultural difference. Increasingly, these two kind of claims are polarized against one another. As a result, we are asked to choose between class politics and identity politics, social democracy and multiculturalism, redistribution and recognition. These, however, are false antitheses. Justice today requires both redistribution and recognition. Neither alone is sufficient. As soon as one embraces this thesis, however, the question of how to combine them becomes paramount. I contend that the emancipatory aspects of the two paradigms need to be integrated in a single, comprehensive framework. In this lecture, I consider two dimensions of this project. First, on the plane of moral philosophy, I propose an overarching conception of justice that can accomodate both defensible claims for social equality and defensible claims for the recognition of difference. Second, on the plane of social theory, I propose an approach that can accomodate the complex relations between interest and identity, economy and culture, class and status in contemporary globalizing capitalist society.

Suggested Citation

  • Fraser, Nancy, 1998. "Social justice in the age of identity politics: Redistribution, recognition, participation," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Organization and Employment FS I 98-108, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzboem:fsi98108

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