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New Left Review I/212, July-August 1995


Nancy Fraser

From Redistribution to Recognition? Dilemmas of Justice in a ‘Post-Socialist’ Age

The ‘struggle for recognition’ is fast becoming the paradigmatic form of political conflict in the late twentieth century. Demands for ‘recognition of difference’ fuel struggles of groups mobilized under the banners of nationality, ethnicity, ‘race’, gender, and sexuality. In these ‘post-socialist’ conflicts, group identity supplants class interest as the chief medium of political mobilization. Cultural domination supplants exploitation as the fundamental injustice. And cultural recognition displaces socioeconomic redistribution as the remedy for injustice and the goal of political struggle. [*] This article is a slightly revised version of a lecture presented at the University of Michigan in March 1995 at the Philosophy Department’s symposium on ‘Political Liberalism’. A longer version will appear in my forthcoming book, Justice Interruptus: Rethinking Key Concepts of a ‘Postsocialist’ Age. For generous research support, I thank the Bohen Foundation, the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen in Vienna, the Humanities Research Institute of the University of California at Irvine, the Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research at Northwestern University, and the Dean of the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research. For helpful comments, I thank Robin Blackburn, Judith Butler, Angela Harris, Randall Kennedy, Ted Koditschek, Jane Mans-bridge, Mika Manty, Linda Nicholson, Eli Zaretsky, and the members of the ‘Feminism and the Discourses of Power’ work group at the Humanities Research Institute of the University of California, Irvine.

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