Opportunities, outcomes and democratic citizenship: Young and Phillips on equality

Chris Armstrong

in Rethinking Equality

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print June 2006 | ISBN: 9780719069246
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701287 | DOI:
Opportunities, outcomes and democratic citizenship: Young and Phillips on equality

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The hegemony of equality of opportunity of some kind is profound within the liberal literature, and even beyond. Liberal egalitarianism has focused on equal opportunities to earn income within a market economy, and has offered an insufficient interrogation of the systematic inequalities that characterise contemporary societies. This chapter examines two responses to this. Specifically, it critically analyses Iris Young's and Anne Phillips's approaches to egalitarian politics. Both theorists want to challenge the methodological individualism of liberal egalitarian theory, to challenge its identification of inequality with choice, and to reinsert a concern with systematic inequalities based around, for instance, race and sex. In their critiques of liberal egalitarian theory, both theorists turn towards the value of democratic participation and communication. In support of Phillips, this chapter argues that the commitment to equality is ill served by an exclusive focus on opportunities and claims that the goal of a critical egalitarian politics should be to end substantial inequalities in incomes and social roles such as caring aggregating around hierarchical constructions of race or ethnicity and binary constructions of sex and sexuality.

Keywords: equal opportunities; participation; liberal egalitarianism; income; Iris Young; Anne Phillips; egalitarian politics; inequality; choice; social roles

Chapter.  10192 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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