Representing groups, deconstructing identities

  • Squires J
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This article explores feminist arguments for group representation and suggests that there are three distinct theoretical frameworks on which these arguments are based: an equality perspective leading to a strategy of inclusion, a difference perspective leading to a strategy of reversal and a diversity perspective leading to a strategy of displacement. I focus in particular on the defence of group representation developed by Iris Marion Young, because this is made from a diversity perspective, which offers the most theoretically satisfying account of subjectivity but is (perhaps because of this) least likely to endorse group representation. Young’s thought is particularly interesting because it attempts to resolve some long-standing dilemmas in feminist political thought. In particular, Young aims to combine a deconstructive strategy of displacement with a model of group representation by developing a relational (rather than interest or identity-based) conception of social groups, by using theories of deliberative democracy. To do so she develops a second conception of objective judgement, which displaces the apparent dichotomy between impartiality and particularity. Although the concept of social groups is compelling, the concept of objective judgement is less so and further work could usefully be done to establish whether a diversity perspective can successfully displace the dichotomy between impartiality and partiality, and so offer a coherent defence of group representation.

Author-supplied keywords

  • deliberative democracy
  • impartiality
  • political representation
  • social groups

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  • Judith Squires

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