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Week Four, Young

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 10 months ago

Week Four, Iris Marion Young, Justice and the Politics of Difference 




Introduction and Chapter 1: Displacing the Distributive Paradigm      Lisa


  •  Why does Young find distributive theories of justice insufficient?  What gets obscured in calls for distributive justice?
  •  What is at stake in Young's distinction between domination and oppression?



Chapter 2: Five Faces of Oppression                      Hagit



1.       In page 40 Young defines oppression as an inhibition of the ability to express one’s needs thoughts and feelings, and in page 43 she adds that for such inhibition to be oppression, it must also be addressed to a group by another group.  This view allows seeing oppression as a reaction that any person can experience, as a form of limitation resulting in belonging to a group. However, her 5 faces of oppression, although widening the traditional sense of oppression, serve as limiting criteria for oppression as she defined it. How would she explain the difference between the definition and the criteria of oppression? Will it be important for her to keep the ‘expression of needs thought and feelings’ as a necessary definer of oppression?

2.       In the beginning of this chapter, Young rejects individualist social theories in which the individual is ontologically prior to its group, and claims that the group constitutes the individual. Would she say then that groups are ontologically prior to individuals? Considering the resulting account given to the individual by her view, is she creating a move from social theories that give primacy to consciousness to a theory that gives primacy to identity as the form of existence that should be theorized with?

3.       General question: Based on Young’s explanation in this chapter of oppression as related to privilege and possibly an unavoidable interaction that is imbedded in the formation of groups, are you convinced that difference without oppression is possible?






Chapter 3: Insurgency and the Welfare Capitalist Society & Chapter 4: The Ideal of Impartiality and the Civic Public             Natalie


  • To Iris Marion Young, the welfare capitalist society is the social context with in which much theorizing about justice takes place.  In the third chapter, she argues that the distributive paradigm of justice corresponds to the primary formulation of public debate is such societies (66)…  Through its welfare orientation it constructs citizens as client-consumers discouraging their active participation in public life.  She argues that the distributive paradigm of justice functions ideologically to reinforce this depoliticization…  Despite this, Iris Marion Young, goes on to propose that Democracy is both an element and a condition of social justice.  How does the inclusion of democracy as an element and a condition of social justice do not construct potential citizens as client-consumers subject?


  • In chapter four, how does Iris Marion young concern with the construction of “the ideal of impartiality” relates to her conception of social justice?







 Chapter 5:  The Scaling of Bodies and the Politics of Identity               Kate


In chapter 5, Young uses psychoanalysis to theorize unconscious cultural imperialism, specifically Kristeva's concept of the abject.  Why do you think she choses to use psychoanlysis to make this point?  How does it strengthen her argument?


General question: As a hopeless empiricist, I can't help but note what some might call Young's methods, or at the very least her epistemological approach to providing (or not providing) evidence.  What counts as evidence to Young?  How do her arguments, in Chapter 5 and otherwise, gain credibility?





Chapter 6:  Social Movements and the Politics of Difference               Kristin


1.  In Chapter 6, Young makes a case for group “emancipation through the politics of difference” (163).  What does her discussion of the potential for emancipation through a reclaiming of difference in social movements require of members of oppressed groups?  More specifically, how can she reasonably expect someone employed in what she calls “menial labor” to find time for politicizing her identity by engaging in group organizing and activism?  Likewise, must a gay male living in a conservative rural community become involved in group politics even though increased visibility in the community might put him at greater risk of experiencing violence?  Does Young’s project unrealistically require members of oppressed groups to become involved in the creation of a truly democratic polity in spite of their personal circumstances and despite increased risks of personal sacrifice?  How would you defend/critique her? 



2.  Does Young deal in a satisfactory way with the potential dangers of instantiating group representation in law?    Here, one might take issue with her representation of the “benefits” that group representation has brought to Indian groups in the United States.  Is it possible that group representation in this case—and others—has actually essentialized difference, instantiated vulnerability, and increased inequality?  Why/why not? 




Chapter 7: Affirmative Action and the Myth of Merit                        Hillary


I find Young remarkably straightforward and organized, so I am aiming my questions less at clarification and more at evaluation, personal engagement, and application.


Do you find the criteria Young outlines on pages 212 (fairness) and in the final section sufficient to actuate her democratic decisionmaking solution to workplace oppression?  Why or why not?

Do you have any concerns with Young's solution?  For instance, do you think differential pay can work with a democratic workplace?

Finally, if we take the university as a workplace rather than a pre-workplace, how do Young's arguments apply?




Chapter 8: City Life and Difference & Epilogue: International Justice         Evan


 *In Chapter 8, Young both criticizes appeals to community as an ideal and "[envisions] an ideal of city life" (226-7, 256). She is careful to say that political action, not ideals, is necessary for social change, but that ideals play an important role in allowing us to question our current assumptions (256). With that in mind, what does Young add to our ongoing investigation of images and their role in philosophy?


*Young "[closes] with an opening" (257), and she leaves us with the basic sketch of a philosophy of international politics. How can we expand upon that opening? What about some other openings that she hints at in the previous chapter, like the role or modification of state and national governments (253)?







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