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Justice and the Politics of Difference
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Justice and the Politics of Difference

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  306 ratings  ·  24 reviews
This book challenges the prevailing philosophical reduction of social justice to distributive justice. It critically analyzes basic concepts underlying most theories of justice, including impartiality, formal equality, and the unitary moral subjectivity. Starting from claims of excluded groups about decision making, cultural expression, and division of labor, Iris Young de ...more
Paperback, 296 pages
Published September 6th 1990 by Princeton University Press (first published August 17th 1990)
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4.05  · 
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 ·  306 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Oct 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I think I worship Iris Marion Young.
Bigg Khalil
Jun 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book after reading an excerpt of the five faces of oppression (one of her chapters) in a social justice reader I assigned as text in a class I co-taught. Then I only read the 5 faces chapter. Years later, I went through the entire book. While I typically disagree with making a concept such as oppression so essentialized, I like how Young took that and applied it throughout the book. This is an excellent read for those interested in social justice philosophy and for those who wish t ...more
Feb 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
An interesting read for those interested in justice, oppression, and resistance. What do these things have in common? Moreover, how do we bind together through all our differences and fight against oppression.

She critiques idea of impartiality in justice and law. She shows the scaling of bodies, where we locate justice. We must unite as groups of people because we are oppressed as groups of people. Economics is not the only oppression. Five faces of oppression are: exploitation, marginalization,
Apr 04, 2009 marked it as only-have-read-certain-parts-of-it
I read all of it (for a college class) except the last chapter on affirmative action and the "myth of merit." I remember it as a book that argued for a critical understanding of and affirmation for group differences, and for ideals of justice that make room for these differences. Pretty thick at times, but the arguments were well-laid out, as I can still recall points she made all these years later.
May 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Chapters four and six are some of my favorite chapters out of any political theory book. Young's rejection of universal humanism in chapter four is a devastating critique of universal humanism and other "impartial" ideals (like colorblindness, etc.). The clearest rejection of universal humanism I have come across. Great for teaching about the privileges of dominant groups.
John Duff
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful critique of the inherent problems with justice theories. Young demonstrates how contemporary theories of justice focus too narrowly on distribution, thereby diminishing the impact of oppression and domination perpetuated by institutions. Thus, justice ought to encompass a wider scope of social phenomena. Young, then, argues that impartial normative morality assumed in contemporary justice theories is impossible, due to the lack of capturing difference among communities and individual ...more
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thesis-fodder
Three months later, I'm still every bit as impressed as I was when I read the first chapter of this powerful exploration of difference and justice. Very well reasoned, very important, and written in clear prose that doesn't hide in meaningless critical jargon and complications. My favorite critical theorist, political theorist, theorist in general, by far.
cat c.
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Haven't read such a dense book in such a long time! What an important and life-changing book.
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is an excellent reference that I imagine I will continue to consult when I need clear, carefully reasoned example arguments describing the problems of "class-only" conceptions of socialist revolution as well as evocative definitions of oppression, domination, and democracy.
Paul Crider
Jun 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: feminism, philosophy
Iris Marion Young is by turns insightful and naive. The central thrust of her work is that justice should be understood not as a question of how to distribute wealth or other quantities, but as overcoming oppression and domination. Oppression is constraining an individual's development, through exploitation, marginalization, violence, cultural imperialism, or powerlessness (the five faces of oppression). Domination is preventing an individual from participating in determining their own actions a ...more
Li Sian
Feb 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a really thought-provoking book - Iris Marion Young rejects the distributive paradigm in justice discourse, arguing that we should really be talking about power dynamics and oppression as a structural concept. Interestingly, for her welfare capitalism represses political difference because it reduces that to a question of distribution - how much to distribute? What technologies to use to distribute? - when we should be asking more fundamental questions about how power works.

I think the most
Apr 04, 2018 marked it as to-keep-reference
Shelves: maesfilo
Para el “paradigma distributivo” (la denominación es de una lúcida crítica de este paradigma, Iris Marion Young), la justicia social es fundamentalmente una cuestión de cómo (re)distribuir equitativamente bienes y cargas entre los miembros de una sociedad.

Para conocer la reconstrucción crítica que hace Iris Marion Young de la concepción redistributiva de la justicia, recomiendo la lectura del capítulo 1 de su libro "La justicia y la política de la diferencia". Para conocer su propuesta alternati
Nov 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Arguing that theories of justice concerned with the distribution of goods ignore institutional oppression, Young illuminates these forms of oppression and suggests an alternate way of dealing with plurality. Although I feel she does not arrive at a solution, I am grateful for her insights into how oppression works, and wish these could be addressed. It's an effort worthy of more than consideration.
Nov 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was originally for a social political philosophy, but I keep going back to it. It really does a good job at challenging the status quo democracy in our nation and inserts the issues of systemic oppression of brown and black people while laying emphasis on how we constantly perpetuate white supremacist ideals. Love it.
Apr 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
I especially appreciate Young's definitions of oppression; in particular, cultural imperialism. "The culturally dominated undergo a paradoxical oppression, in that they are both marked out by stereotype and at the same time rendered invisible." Just about the most succinct summing up of that aspect of my life as I have ever read.
Oct 31, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: socialjustice
I read this in college in a course on Race and Ethnicity. This book was really helpful to me, and it also sparked my interest in workplace democracy.
Anthony Del Signore
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Refreshing read. Good for a senior capstone course in philosophy and/or political theory.
Claire Melanie
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly thought provoking and lucid application of critical theory to late modern capitalist systems in liberal democratic countries. Very well considered and persuasive
May 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
it was just too much for me! i stopped at page 91 of 260. i wanted to get really into it and i did..... but only for moments. oh well. [sigh]
Claire M
Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The pinnacle of thought-provoking political theory. I loved it and could not get Young's theories out of my head.
Josh Duxbury
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good overview of aspects of social justice.
Gia Gh
May 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
By far one of the greatest theory books with a focus on intersectionality.
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Nov 04, 2018
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Iris Marion Young is Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago.