Towards a realist-informed integrated theory of justice




Molnar, Adam

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Contemporary theoretical and political approaches have sought to integrate both a material politics of redistribution and a cultural politics of recognition into a relational theoretical framework. Such frameworks consider the intersecting ways individuals and groups suffer from over-determining social inequalities that are rooted in the economic, cultural and political orders of society. In this thesis, I identify approaches that seek to explain the intersection between economic, cultural, and political variables as “integrated” theories of justice. At the forefront of integrated approaches that have cut across disciplinary and epistemological divides, I critically engage with Nancy Fraser’s integrated theory of justice (1995, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005). I also examine similar, yet alternative approaches advanced by Jacinda Swanson (2005) and others that have attempted to reconcile the economy/culture/politics relationship. I argue that while integrated theories of social justice provide a correction to previous “reductionist” and “essentializing” theories of social justice, they do not go far enough to capture the over-determining interconnections between economics, politics, culture, and agency. As a result, they are unable to adequately address the complexity of social inequalities. To address this problem in the literature, I re-work integrated theories of social justice that attempt to reconcile the economy/culture/politics divide through an integration with a realist meta-theoretical approach. A realist approach offers several theoretical, methodological and political gains for recasting complex theories of social justice.



critical realism, social justice, nancy fraser, political representation, social inequality, agency, social theory, political theory