Social Difference as a Political Resource

by Iris Marion Young

(Chapter 3 of Inclusion and Democracy)

Many advocates of a deliberative model of democracy appeal to the republican ideal of a common good as what distinguishes it from an aggregative model of democracy. To form a deliberative public, in this interpretation, citizens must leave aside their parochial concerns of local loyalty and particular affiliation. Deliberating citizens cooperate by looking for what they have in common, seeking similarities among themselves. On this construction of politics and deliberation, there are only two alternatives, which correlate with a distinction between aggregative and deliberative models of democracy. Either people mobilize in self-regarding interest groups that compete for goods without any concern for justice, or citizens engage in rational discussion to identify the policies that unite them in a shared vision of their common interests.

Social movements mobilizing around experiences and analyses of the oppressive and unequal consequences of social differentiations of gender, race, sexuality, national origin, or religion, along with class, have expressed scepticism about appeals to a common good. The claims of workers or poor people to higher wages or more social supports too often appear as 'special interests' in such constructions of the common interest. Such claims of unity, these movements assert, often bias the interpretation of a common good in ways that favour dominant social groups and position women, or indigenous people, or Blacks, or homosexuals, or Muslims as deviant Other. Many in these social movements thus claim that it is important to notice differences of social position, structured power, and cultural affiliation in political discussion and decision-making that aims to promote justice. Issues of justice vary for structurally different groups, this politics of difference argues; oppressions and wrongful inequalities take many forms, and appeals to a common good do not adequately respond to and notice such differences. [82]

Social movements arguing that politics aiming to promote justice should attend to social differences of gender, race, cultural age, ability, and so on have had considerable influence in many parts of the world since the 1970s. Recently some political theorists articulating a discussion-based view of democratic process, however, have criticized such a politics of difference as just another form of selfish interest group politics. This chapter considers the claims of some of those who assert that public-spirited democratic politics requires commitment to a common good, and thus criticize the politics of feminism, gay and lesbian rights, anti-racism, and multiculturalism. I examine three variations of the claim that justice-oriented politics requires transcending social difference towards a common good: neo-republican, liberal nationalist, and socialist. All claim that group-specific political movements endanger democracy and make meaningful communication impossible. Focusing on issues of gender, sexuality, race, ethnic disadvantage, these critics assert, only divides and destroys public discussion, creating bickering and self-interested enclaves with no orientation towards transformative deliberation or co-operation. Each critic would agree that democracy requires all persons affected by decisions to be included in the process that leads to them. Each implicitly constructs this ideal, however, as the inclusion of individual citizens in a single discursive public with other undifferentiated citizens who leave behind their particular social situations to seek their common interests.

I argue that political claims asserted from the specificity of social group position, and which argue that the polity should attend to these social differences, often serve as a resource for rather than an obstruction of democratic communication that aims at justice. Critics of such claims wrongly reduce this politics of difference to 'identity politics'. While this label is appropriate to describe certain aspects of groupbased social movements, or certain issues important to them, on the whole the label 'identity politics' is misleading. Political theory would do well to disengage social group difference from a logic of identity, in two ways. First, we should conceptualize social groups according to a relational rather than a substantialist logic. Secondly, we should affirm that groups do not have identities as such, but rather that individuals construct their own identities on the basis of social group positioning.

I distinguish cultural and structural social groups, and argue that the latter are more important for most appeals to justice. The chapter briefly theorizes structural social groups and structural inequality. Differentiations of gender, race, or ability are more like class than ethnicity, I argue, inasmuch as they concern structural relations of [83]power, resource allocation, and discursive hegemony. Even where the basis of group differentiation more concerns culture than structure, furthermore, claims to cultural recognition usually are means to the end of undermining domination or wrongful deprivation.

A strong communicative democracy, I conclude, needs to draw on social group differentiation, especially the experience derived from structural differentiation, as a resource. A democratic process is inclusive not simply by formally including all potentially affected individuals in the same way, but by attending to the social relations that differently position people and condition their experiences, opportunities, and knowledge of the society. A democratic public arrives at objective political judgement from discussion not by bracketing these differences, but by communicating the experiences and perspectives conditioned by them to one another. Communication of the experience and knowledge derived from different social positions helps correct biases derived from the dominance of partial perspective over the definition of problems or their possible solutions. Such differentiated communication also enables a public collectively to construct a more comprehensive account of how social processes work and therefore of the likely consequences of proposed policies. Not only does the explicit inclusion of different social groups in democratic discussion and decision-making increase the likelihood of promoting justice because the interests of all are taken into account. It also increases that likelihood by increasing the store of social knowledge available to participants.

1. Critique of a Politics of Difference

Writers with varying political sympathies have criticized claims of justice and political inclusion made on the basis of specific social group experiences of women, gay men and lesbians, racial minorities, or people with disabilities. Nevertheless, these criticisms take a similar form. They each construct group-specific justice claims as an assertion of group identity, and argue that the claims endanger democratic communication because they only divide the polity into selfish interest groups. I shall review the accounts of communitarian Jean Elshtain, liberal nationalist David Miller, and socialists Todd Gitlin and David Harvey.

Destroys the common good

For Jean Elshtain, workable democracy involves active citizens in a vibrant civil society who work together in a public spirit that seeks [84] their common good. Democratically committed citizens should adopt a public orientation of commitment and responsibility in which they leave behind what differentiates them. Workable democratic communication and decision-making, according to Elshtain, requires that citizens be able to transcend the parochialism of their private associations, affections, and affiliations.

Recent movements asserting the importance of attending to social group difference, such as feminists, gay rights activists, or post-civil-rights African American activism, do not, in Elshtain's view, display such public-spiritedness. On the contrary, a politics of difference destroys public commitment to a common good. These movements have turned politics into a cacophony of self-interested demands for recognition and redress, where groups within their private identities are unwilling or unable to communicate and co-operate.

To the extent that citizens begin to retribalize into ethnic or other 'fixed identity' groups, democracy falters. Any possibility for dialogue, for democratic communication and commonality, vanishes as so much froth on the polluted sea of phony equality. Difference becomes more and more exclusive. If you are black and I am white, by definition I do not and cannot in principle 'get it'. There is no way that we can negotiate the space between our given differences. We are just stuck with them in what political theorists used to call 'ascriptive characteristics'-things we cannot change about ourselves. Mired in the cement of our own identities, we need never deal with one another. Not really. One of us will win and one of us will lose the cultural war or the political struggle. That's what it's all about: power of the most reductive, impositional sort.[1]
Feminists and gay rights activists, in Elshtain's view, drag private issues of reproduction and sexuality into the public, where they inappropriately demand inclusion and equal opportunity without shedding or hiding their bodily specificity. Blacks or Latinos or Native Americans claim that American history has left a legacy of discrimination and disadvantage reproduced in schools, workplaces, and public policy, but in their claims for redress they ignore their responsibilities for promoting the common good of everyone. These politics of difference are only a crass interest group politics that makes dialogue impossible.

Weakens national identity

David Miller largely reduces group-based social movements to claims of minority ethnicities for recognition in the context of a nation-state.[85] Feminist or gay rights movements, in his construction, appear to be just another identity, gender identity or sexuality, seeking recognition in public life.

Group identity, whether sexual, cultural, or ethnic, should not merely be expressed in private settings, but should be carried into the arenas of politics — that is, one should participate politically as a gay, a religious fundamentalist, or a black — and political institutions should operate in such a way as to respect these group differences. On the one hand, they must validate group identities by ensuring that the various groups are represented in politics as groups; on the other hand, they must ensure that the policies that emerge show equal respect for the values and cultural demands of each group — there should, if necessary, be subsidies for the activities that each group regards as central to its identity; educational materials must avoid discriminatory judgments which imply that one cultural norm might be superior to another; and so forth.[2]
Miller does not entirely reject the idea that minority cultures should receive public recognition and expression. To the extent that some groups tend to be excluded from full participation in public deliberation, moreover, he agrees that special representation for groups may sometimes be necessary. A politics of difference taken too far, however, on his account, endangers the national identity, which ought to be the primary focus of political debate. In a deliberative democratic setting, if groups make claims on one another for justice, they can do so effectively on the basis of sharing a common national identity. That national identity is the basis of the trust among groups necessary to an orderly and human democratic government. Individuals can develop and express their ethnic and other group identities, such as their gender identity or their Jewish identity, but the national identity must be universal and neutral, as the commitment to a common political culture that transcends these specificities.

Undermines class solidarity

Surprisingly, perhaps, the radical socialist critique of new social movements has a form similar to the communitarian or the liberal nationalist critique. Feminist, indigenous, or anti-racist movements and claims for justice, according to leftists such as Todd Gitlin or David Harvey, have splintered progressive politics into separatist enclaves. Attention to issues like sexual harassment or police abuse diverts egalitarian socialists from the power of capitalism that oppresses all of the groups.[86] Concern with culture and identity freezes different groups in opposition to one another, rather than uniting everyone who has reason to oppose the power that corporate imperatives have over the lives of most people. As the gap between rich and poor grows, and increasing numbers of people world-wide are hurled into poverty or economic insecurity, emancipatory politics requires that all who are interested in justice put aside their particular claims of gender, sexual, race, or ethnic oppression and unite behind the common dream of a society that meets everyone's basic needs. The politics of difference only deflects from such concerns. Those group-based claims are particularist and selfregarding, unlike the claims of working-class struggle, which transcend those group particularities towards a vision of universal human emancipation.[3]

All these criticisms reduce group-based social movements to the label 'identity politics'. They all construe this identity politics as either the assertion of a group interest without regard for the interests of others, and/or the demand that others in a polity recognize their group identity as such. There is some basis for these interpretations: Essentialist modes of asserting group identity can be found in the behaviour and discourse of some people speaking out of movements of women, Blacks, indigenous people, people with disabilities, migrants, and similar social movements. The primary claims of these movements, however, and those that deserve to be taken the most seriously, have been claims for political equality, inclusion, and appeals to justice directed at a wider public which they claim that public ought to accept. These movements have made claims upon dominant political, social, and economic institutions that their interests, needs, and particular points of view should be better taken into account in decisionmaking processes and policies.

In what follows I will argue that labelling these movements and their claims 'identity politics' is largely misleading. The specificity of group difference out of which these movements arise is best conceptualized through a relational logic, rather than the substantive logic assumed in most notions of group identity. The primary form of social difference to which the movements respond, moreover, is structural difference, which may build on but is not reducible to cultural differences of gender, ethnicity, or religion. Social structures often position people unequally in processes of power, resource allocation, or [87]discursive hegemony. Claims of justice made from specific social group positions expose the consequences of such relations of dower or opportunity. Where there are such social group differences, moreover, they often produce social problems or conflicts. Democratic communication best responds to these problems and conflicts not by invoking a common good, but by taking account of the specificities of differentiated relations.

2. Social Difference is not Identity

Those who reduce group difference to identity implicitly use a logic of substance to conceptualize groups. Under this logic a group is defined by a set of essential attributes that constitute its identity as a group. Individuals are said to belong to the group in so far as they have the requisite attributes. On this sort of account, the project of organizing in relation to group-based affiliation and experience requires identifying one or more personal or social attributes which make the group what it is, shared by members of the group, and which clearly exclude others. Identifying the group of Latinos, for example, means finding the essential attributes of being Latino, such as biological connection, language, national origin, or celebration of specific holidays: Saying that gay people are a group, to take another example, means identifying the essential attributes that members of the group share that make the group a group. In their efforts to discover the specificities of their group-based social positions and forge relations of solidarity among those similarly located, group-based social movements themselves have sometimes exhibited these essentializing tendencies. We did not need to wait for neo-republican or socialist critics of 'identity politics' to point out the problems with such identity claims. Group-differentiated political movements themselves, along with their theoreticians, haves developed sophisticated critiques of such tendencies.[4]

Whether imposed by outsiders or constructed by insiders to the group, attempts to define the essential attributes of persons belonging[88]to social groups fall prey to the problem that there always seem to be persons without the required attributes whom experience tends to include in the group or who identify with the group. The essentialist approach to defining social groups freezes the experienced fluidity of social relations by setting up rigid inside-outside distinctions among groups. If a politics of difference requires such internal unity coupled with clear borders to the social group, then its critics are right to claim that such politics divides and fragments people, encouraging conflict and parochialism.

A politics that seeks to organize people on the basis of a group identity all members share, moreover, must confront the fact that many people deny that group positioning is significant for their identity. Some women, for example, deny reflective awareness of womanly identity as constitutive of their identity, and they deny any particular identification with other women. Many French people deny the existence of a French identity and claim that being French is nothing particularly important to their personal identities; indeed, many of these would be likely to say that the search for French identity that constitutes the personal identities of individual French men and women is a dangerous form of nationalism. Even when people affirm group affinity as important to their identities, they often chafe at the tendency to enforce norms of behaviour or identity that essentialist definitions of the groups entail.

Thirdly, the tendency to conceive group difference as the basis of a common identity which can assert itself in politics implies for many that group members all have the same interests and agree on the values, strategies, and policies that will promote those interests. In fact, however, there is usually wide disagreement among people in a given social group on political ideology. Though members of a group oppressed by gender or racial stereotypes may share interests in the elimination of discrimination and dehumanizing imagery, such a concern is too abstract to constitute a strategic goal. At a more concrete level members of such groups usually express divergent and even contradictory interests.[5]

The most important criticism of the idea of an essential group identity that members share, however, concerns its apparent denial of differentiation within and across groups. Everyone relates to a plurality of social groups; every social group has other social groups cutting across it. The group 'men' is differentiated by class, race, religion, age, and so on; the group 'Muslim' differentiated by gender, nationality, and so on. If group identity constitutes individual identity and if [89]individuals can identify with one another by means of group identity, then how do we deal theoretically and practically with the fact of multiple group positioning? Is my individual identity somehow an aggregate of my gender identity, race identity, class identity, like a string of beads, to use Elizabeth Spelman's metaphor. In addition, this ontological problem has a political dimension: as Spelman, Lugones, and others argue, the attempt to define a common group identity tends to normalize the experience and perspective of some of the group members while marginalizing or silencing that of others.[6]

Those who reduce a politics of difference to 'identity politics', and then criticize that politics, implicitly use a logic of substance, or a logic of identity, to conceptualize groups. In this logic an entity is what it is by virtue of the attributes that inhere in it, some of which are essential attributes. We saw above that attempts to conceptualize any social group-whether a cultural group like Jews, or structural groups like workers or women-become confused when they treat groups as substantially distinct entities whose members all share some specific attributes or interests that do not overlap with any outsiders. Such a rigid conceptualization of group differentiation both denies the similarities that many group members have with those not considered in the group, and denies the many shadings and differentiations within the group.

By conceiving social group differentiation in relational rather than substantial terms, we can retain a description of social group differentiation, but without fixing or reifying groups. Any group consists in a collective of individuals who stand in determinate relations with one another because of the actions and interactions of both those associated with the group and those outside or at the margins of the group.[7] There is no collective entity, the group, apart from the individuals who compose it. A group is much more than an aggregate, however. An aggregate is a more or less arbitrary collection of individuals according to one or more attributes; aggregation, when it occurs, is from the point of view of outsiders, and does not express a subjective social experience. Insurance companies may aggregate smokers for the purposes of actuarial tables, and the Cancer Society may aggregate persons known to have contributed to health insurance advocacy groups. When constituted as aggregates, individuals stand in no determinate relations to one another. The members of groups, however, stand in [90]determinate relations both to one another and to non-members. The group, therefore, consists in both the individuals and their relationships.

Associations are one kind of group. An association is a group that individuals purposefully constitute to accomplish specific objectives. These may be as minor and transient as forming a neighbourhood welcoming committee or as grand and long-lasting as a constitutional state. Certainly associations are constituted relationally. Their members or affiliates stand in certain relations with one another around particular objectives, and those relations are often defined by explicit rules and roles, although many of the relationships in associations will also be informal and tacit. The argument of this chapter requires conceptualizing social groups, however, as distinct from associations.[8]

Considered relationally, a social group is a collective of persons differentiated from others by cultural forms, practices, special needs or capacities, structures of power or privilege. Unlike associations, social groups are not explicitly constituted. They emerge from the way people interact. The attributes by which some individuals are classed together in the 'same' group appear as similar enough to do so only by the emergent comparison with others who appear more different in that respect. Relational encounter produces perception of both similarity and difference. Before the British began to conquer the islands now called New Zealand, for example, there was no group anyone thought of as Maori. The people who lived on those islands saw themselves as belonging to dozens or hundreds of groups with different lineage and relation to natural resources. Encounter with the English, however, gradually changed their perceptions of their differences; the English saw them as similar to each other in comparison to the English, and they found the English more different from them than they felt from one another.

In a relational conceptualization, what makes a group a group is less some set of attributes its members share than the relations in which they stand to others. On this view, social difference may be stronger or weaker, it may be more or less salient, depending on the point of view of comparison. A relational conception of group difference does not need to force all persons associated with the group under the same attributes. Group members may differ in many ways, including how strongly they bear affinity with others of the group. A relational approach, moreover, does not designate clear conceptual and practical [91] borders that distinguish all members of one group decisively from members of others. Conceiving group differentiation as a function of relation, comparison, and interaction, then, allows for overlap, interspersal, and interdependence among groups and their members.[9]

Groups differentiated by historic connection to territories and by culture have received the most attention both in recent political theory and practical politics, for example in nationalist politics, on the one hand, and in efforts to institute multicultural policies, on the other. Cultural groups are differentiated by perceived similarity and dissimilarity in language, everyday practices, conventions of spirituality, sociability, production, and the aesthetics and objects associated with food, music, buildings, the organization of residential and public space, visual images, and so on. For those within it or who practice it, culture is an environment and means of expression and communication largely unnoticed in itself. As such, culture provides people with important background for their personal expression and contexts for their actions and options. Culture enables interaction and communication among those who share it. For those unfamiliar with its meanings and practices, culture is strange and opaque. Cultural difference emerges from internal and external relations. People discover themselves with cultural affinities that solidify them into groups by virtue of their encounter with those who are culturally different in some or many respects. In discovering themselves as distinct, cultural groups usually solidify a mutual affinity and self-consciousness of themselves as groups.

Political conflict between cultural groups is common, of course. Outsiders condemn or denigrate a group's practices or meanings, and/or assert the superiority of their own, sometimes attempting to suppress the denigrated group's practices and meanings, and impose its own on them. It is important to remember, however, that much of the ground for conflict between culturally differentiated groups is not cultural, but a competition over territory, resources, or jobs. The last chapter of this book focuses on some issues of cultural difference by examining contemporary arguments about liberal nationalism and [92]self-determination. Later in this chapter I will discuss the politics of multiculturalism as a kind of 'identity politics'.

More important for the central argument of this chapter, however, is the concept of structural, as distinct from cultural, group. While they are often built upon and intersect with cultural differences, the social relations constituting gender, race, class, sexuality, and ability are best understood as structural. [10] The social movements motivated by such group-based experiences are largely attempts to politicize and protest structural inequalities that they perceive unfairly privilege some social segments and oppress others. Analysing structural difference and structural inequality, then, helps to show why these movements are not properly interpreted as 'identity politics'. I turn, then, to an account of structural differentiation.

3. Structural Difference and Inequality

Appeal to a structural level of social life, as distinct from a level of individual experience and action, is common among social critics.[11] Appeal to structure invokes the institutionalized background which conditions much individual action and expression, but over which individuals by themselves have little control. Yet the concept of structure is notoriously difficult to pin down. I will define social structure, and more specifically structural inequality, by rebuilding elements from different accounts.

Marilyn Frye likens oppression to a birdcage. The cage makes the bird entirely unfree to fly. If one studies the causes of this imprisonment by looking at one wire at a time, however, it appears puzzling. How does a wire only a couple of centimetres wide prevent a bird's flight? One wire at a time, we can neither describe nor explain the inhibition of the bird's flight. Only a large number of wires arranged in [93] a specific way and connected to one another to enclose the bird and reinforce one another's rigidity can explain why the bird is unable to fly freely.[12]

At a first level of intuition, this is what I mean by social structures that inhibit the capacities of some people. An account of someone's life circumstances contains many strands of difficulty or difference from others that, taken one by one, can appear to be the result of decision, preferences, or accidents. When considered together, however, and when compared with the life story of others, they reveal a net of restricting and reinforcing relationships. Let me illustrate.

Susan Okin gives an account of women's oppression as grounded in a gender division of labour in the family. She argues that gender roles and expectations structure men's and women's lives in thoroughgoing ways that result in disadvantage and vulnerability for many women and their children. Institutionally, the entire society continues to be organized around the expectation that children and other dependent people ought to be cared for primarily by family members without formal compensation. Good jobs, on the other hand, assume that workers are available at least forty hours per week year round. Women are usually the primary caretakers of children and other dependent persons, due to a combination of factors: their socialization disposes them to choose to do it, and/or their job options pay worse than those available to their male partners, or her male partner's work allows him little time for care work. As a consequence the attachment of many women to the world of employment outside the home is more episodic, less prestigious, and less well paid than men's. This fact in turn often makes women dependent on male earnings for primary support of themselves and their children. Women's economic dependence gives many men unequal power in the family. If the couple separates, moreover, prior dependence on male earnings coupled with the assumptions of the judicial system makes women and their children vulnerable to poverty. Schools', media, and employers' assumptions all mirror the expectation that domestic work is done primarily by women, which assumptions in turn help reproduce those unequal structures.[13]

This is an account of gender difference as structural difference. The account shows gender difference as structured by a set of relationships and interactions that act together to produce specific possibilities and preclude others, and which operate in a reinforcing circle. One can [94] quarrel with the content or completeness of the account. To it I would add, for example, the structures that organize the social dominance of norms of heterosexual desire, and the consequences of this heterosexual matrix for people of both sexes and multiple desires. The example can show at an intuitive level the meaning of structural social group difference. Social groups defined by race or class are also positioned in structures; shortly I will elaborate these examples. Now I will systematize the notion of structure by building up definitions from several social theorists.

Peter Blau offers the following definition. 'A social structure can be defined as a multidimensional space of differentiated social positions among which a population is distributed. The social associations of people provide both the criterion for distinguishing social positions and the connections among them that make them elements of a single social structure.'[14] Blau exploits the spatial metaphor implied by the concept of structure. Individual people occupy varying positions in the social space, and their positions stand in determinate relation to other positions. The structure consists in the connections among the positions and their relationships, and the way the attributes of positions internally constitute one another through those relationships.

Basic social structures consist in determinate social positions that people occupy which condition their opportunities and life chances. These life chances are constituted by the ways the positions are related to one another to create systematic constraints or opportunities that reinforce one another, like wires in a cage. Structural social groups are constituted through the social organization of labour and production, the organization of desire and sexuality, the institutionalized rules of authority and subordination, and the constitution of prestige. Structural social groups are relationally constituted in the sense that one position in structural relations does not exist apart from a differentiated relation to other positions. Priests, for example, have a particular social function and status in a particular society by virtue of their structured and interdependent relations with others who believe they need specialists in spiritual service and are willing to support that specialization materially. The prestige associated with a caste, to take another example, is bought only through reproduced relations of denigration with lower castes. The castes exist by virtue of their interactive relations with one another, enacted and re-enacted through rituals of deference and superiority enforced through distributions, material dependencies, and threats of force. [95]

More generally, a person's social location in structures differentiated by class, gender, age, ability, race, or caste often implies predictable status in law, educational possibility, occupation, access to resources, political power, and prestige. Not only do each of these factors enable or constrain self-determination and self-development, they also tend to reinforce the others. One reason to call these structural is that they are relatively permanent. Though the specific content and detail of the positions and relationships are frequently reinterpreted, evolving, and even contested, the basic social locations and their relations to one another tend to be reproduced.

It is certainly misleading, however, to reify the metaphor of structure, that is, to think of social structures as entities independent of social actors, lying passively around them, easing or inhibiting their movement. On the contrary, social structures exist only in the action and interaction of persons; they exist not as states, but as processes. Thus Anthony Giddens defines social structures in terms of 'rules and resources, recursively implicated in the reproduction of social systems'.[15] In the idea of the duality of structure, Giddens theorizes how people act on the basis of their knowledge of pre-existing structures and in so acting reproduce those structures. We do so because we act according to rules and expectations and because our relationally constituted positions make or do not make certain resources available to us.

Economic class is the paradigm of structural relations in this sense. Understood as a form of structural differentiation, class analysis begins with an account of positions in the functioning of systems of ownership, finance, investment, production, and service provision. Even when they have shares of stock or participate in pension funds, those who are not in a position to live independently and control the movement of capital must depend on employment by others in order to gain a livelihood. These positions of capitalist and worker are themselves highly differentiated by income and occupation, but their basic structural relation is an interdependency; most people depend on employment by private enterprises for their livelihoods, and the owners and managers depend on the competence and co-operation of their employees for revenues. Important recent scholarship has argued that a bipolar understanding of economic class in contemporary societies is too simple, and we must also analysis the structural differences of professional and non-professional employees, as well [96] as self-employed, and those more or less permanently excluded from employment.[16]

People are born into a particular class position, and this accident of birth has enormous consequences for the opportunities and privileges they have for the rest of their lives. Without a doubt, some born to wealth-owner families die paupers, and others born poor die rich. Nevertheless, a massive empirical literature shows that the most consistent predictor of adult income level, educational attainment, occupation, and ownership of assets is the class situation of one's parents. While class position is defined first in terms of relations of production, class privilege also produces and is supported by an array of assets such as residence, social networks, access to high-quality education and cultural supplements, and so on. All of these operate to reinforce the structural differentiations of class.

Defining structures in terms of the rules and resources brought to actions and interactions, however, makes the reproduction of structures sound too much like the product of individual and intentional action. The concept of social structure must also include conditions under which actors act, which are often a collective outcome of action impressed onto the physical environment. Jean-Paul Sartre calls this aspect of social structural the inert."[17] Most of the conditions under which people act are socio-historical: they are the products of previous actions, usually products of many co-ordinated and uncoordinated but mutually influenced actions over them. Those collective actions have produced determinate effects on the physical and cultural environment which condition future action in specific ways. As I understand the term, social structures include this practico-inert physical organization of buildings, but also modes of transport and communication, trees, rivers, and rocks, and their relation to human action.

Processes that produce and reproduce residential racial segregation illustrate how structural relations become inscribed in the physicality of the environment, often without anyone intending this outcome, thereby conditioning future action and interaction. A plurality of expectations and actions and their effects operate to limit the options of many innercity dwellers in the United States. Racially discriminatory behaviour and policies limit the housing options of people of colour, confining many of them to neighbourhoods from which many [97]of those whites who are able to leave do. Property-owners fail to keep up their buildings, and new investment is hard to attract because the value of property appears to decline. Because of more concentrated poverty and lay-off policies that disadvantage Blacks or Latinos, the effects of an economic downturn in minority neighbourhoods are often felt more severely, and more businesses fail or leave. Politicians often are more responsive to the neighbourhoods where more affluent and white people live; thus schools, fire protection, policing, snow removal, garbage pick-up, are poor in the ghetto neighbourhoods. The spatial concentration of poorly maintained buildings and infrastructure that results reinforces the isolation and disadvantage of those there because people are reluctant to invest in them. Economic restructuring independent of these racialized processes contributes to the closing of major employers near the segregated neighbourhoods and the opening of employers in faraway suburbs. As a result of the confluence of all these actions and processes, many Black and Latino children are poorly educated, live around a higher concentration of demoralized people in dilapidated and dangerous circumstances, and have few prospects for employment.[18]

Reference to the physical aspects of social structures helps to lead us to a final aspect of the concept. The actions and interactions which take place among persons differently situated in social structures using rules and resources do not only take place on the basis of past actions whose collective effects mark the physical conditions of action. They also often have future effects beyond the immediate purposes and intentions of the actors. Structured social action and interaction often have collective results that no one intends, and which may even be counter to the best intentions of the actors.[19] Even though no one intends them, they become given circumstances that help structure future actions. Presumably no one intends the vulnerability of many children to poverty that Okin argues the normal gender division of labour produces.

In summary, a structural social group is a collection of persons who are similarly positioned in interactive and institutional relations that condition their opportunities and life prospects. This conditioning occurs because of the way that actions and interactions conditioning that position in one situation reinforce the rules and resources available for other actions and interactions involving people in the structural positions. The unintended consequences of the confluence of [98]many actions often produce and reinforce such opportunities and constraints, and these often make their mark on the physical conditions of future actions, as well as on the habits and expectations of actors. This mutually reinforcing process means that the positional relations and the way they condition individual lives are difficult to change.

Structural groups sometimes build on or overlap with cultural groups, as in most structures of racialized differentiation or ethnicbased privilege. Thus cultural groups and structural groups cannot be considered mutually exclusive or opposing concepts. Later I will elaborate on the interaction of cultural groups with structures, in the context of evaluating what should and should not be called identity politics. Not all ethnic or cultural group difference, however, generates structural group difference. Some structural difference, moreover, is built not on differences of cultural practice and perception, but instead on bodily differences like sex or physical ability. Some structures position bodies with particular attributes in relations that have consequences for how people are treated, the assumptions made about them, and their opportunities to realize their plans. In so far as it makes sense to say that people with disabilities are a social group, for example, despite their vast bodily differences, this is in virtue of social structures that normalize certain functions in the tools, built environment, and expectations of many people.[20]

People differently positioned in social structures have differing experiences and understandings of social relationships and the operations of the society because of their structural situation. Often such differences derive from the structural inequalities that privilege some people in certain respects and relatively disadvantage others. Structural inequality consists in the relative constraints some people encounter in their freedom and material well-being as the cumulative effect of the possibilities of their social positions, as compared with others who in their social positions have more options or easier access to benefits. These constraints or possibilities by no means determine outcomes for individuals in their ability to enact their plans or gain access to benefits. Some of those in more constrained situations are particularly lucky or unusually hard-working and clever, while some of those with an open road have bad luck or squander their [99] opportunities by being lazy or stupid. Those who successfully overcome obstacles, however, cannot be judged as equal to those who have faced fewer structural obstacles, even if at a given time they have roughly equivalent incomes, authority, or prestige.

4. Social Groups and Personal Identity

So far I have aimed to disengage group difference from identity by suggesting that social groups do not themselves have substantive unified identities, but rather are constituted through differentiated relations. The other task of this disengagement concerns the relation of individuals to groups. Some ethnic-, national-, gender-, or raceconscious social movement activists talk as though affinity with these groups constitutes their identity as individual people, which they share with all others of the group. Such discourse, however, quickly runs up against the problem I discussed earlier, namely that every individual necessarily has affinities with many social groups, and that the lives of different individuals are structured by differing constellations of groups. If each group defines a person's identity, then how are a person's multiple group affiliations conjoined? Many people rightly resist the suggestion, moreover, that who they are as individuals is determined in specific ways by social group membership. Such a notion of personal identity as constituted by an alleged group identity fails to give sufficient force to personal freedom and individuality.

From these failings it does not follow that groups are fictions or have no significant relation to individual possibilities. The relation of individuals to groups, however, is not one of identity. Social groups do indeed position individuals, but a person's identity is her own, formed in active relation to social positions, among other things, rather than constituted by them. Individual subjects make their own identities, but not under conditions they choose.

An important strand of social theory describes individual subjectivity and identity as constituted or conditioned by the social relations into which a person is born and grows up, and through which he or she moves in his or her life. Social relationships, institutions, and structures are prior to individual subjects, both temporally and ontologically. A person encounters an already structured configuration of power, resource allocation, status norms, and culturally differentiated practices.[21] Particular individuals occupy particular positions in these [100] fields. The positioning of individuals occurs through processes of communicative interaction in which persons identify one another as belonging to certain social categories, as standing in specific relations to themselves or others, and enforce norms and expectations in relation to one another. While no individual is in exactly the same position as any other, agents are 'closer' or 'farther' from one another in their location with respect to the relations that structure that field. Agents who are similarly positioned experience similar constraints or enablements, particular modes of expression and affinity, in social relations. Persons are thrown into a world with a given history of sedimented meanings and material landscape, and interaction with others in the social field locates us in terms of the given meanings, expected activities, institutional rules, and their consequences. We find ourselves positioned in relations of class, gender, race, nationality, religion, and so on, which are sources of both possibilities of action and constraint.

In another place I have suggested that Sartre's concept of 'seriality' can be useful for theorizing structural positioning that conditions the possibility of social agents without constituting their identities. In Sartre's theory to be working-class (or capitalist class) is to be part of a series that is constituted by the material organization of labour ownership, and the power of capital in relation to labour. I have suggested that the gender position of being a woman does not itself imply sharing social attributes and identity with all those others called women. Instead, 'women' is the name of a series in which some individuals find themselves positioned by virtue of norms of enforced heterosexuality and the sexual division of labour.[22] Both the norms and expectations of heterosexual interaction and the habits developed in certain social [101 ] activities such as caring for children will condition the dispositions and affinities of people, without constituting their identities.

Social processes and interactions position individual subjects in prior relations and structures, and this positioning conditions who they are. But position neither determines nor defines individual identity. Individuals are agents: we constitute our own identities, and each person's identity is unique. We do not choose the conditions under which we form our identities, and we have no choice but to become ourselves under the conditions that position us in determinate relation to others. We act in situation, in relation to the meanings, practices, and structural conditions and their interaction into which we are thrown. Some of the recent literature on the moral value of cultural membership discusses one such mode of the conditioning of selves. The language and historical narratives of a group, its literature, symbols, modes of celebration, and so on give individuals both context and media for expressing their individuality and interpreting the world.[23] Positioning in social structures such as class, gender, race, and age condition individual lives by enabling and constraining possibilities of action, including enabling relations of superiority and deference between people.

None of this, however, determines individual identities. Subjects are not only conditioned by their positions in structured social relation; subjects are also agents. To be an agent means that you can take the constraints and possibilities that condition your life and make something of them in your own way. Some women, for example, affirm norms of femininity and internalize them; others resist evaluations of their actions and dispositions in such terms. Some people whose class status makes their childhood relatively difficult develop an attitude of working-class militancy against bosses, while others become determined to enter the upper class. Our experiences of cultural meaning and structural positioning occur in unique events and interactions with other individuals, and the unique events are often more important to our sense of ourselves than are these social facts. How we fashion ourselves is also a function of our attitudes towards our multiple cultural and structural group memberships.[24] In the words of Kwame [102] Anthony Appiah, 'We make up selves from a tool kit of options made available by our culture and society. We do make choices, but we do not determine the options among which we choose.[25]

Understanding individuals as conditioned by their positioning in relation to social groups without their constituting individual identities helps to solve the problem of 'pop-bead' identity: A person's identity is not some sum of her gender, racial, class, and national affinities. She is only her identity, which she herself has made by the way that she deals with and acts in relation to others social group positions, among other things.

This way of conceptualizing the relation of individual identities to social position, moreover, has several implications for the argument I make below to the effect that social group difference is a resource in democratic communication that aims to promote justice. First, it allows us to notice structural relations of dominance and subordination among groups that raise important issues of justice for individuals. The metaphor of positioning, furthermore, helps to point to ways that individual people have similar kinds of knowledge about the workings of society or have similar kinds of routine experiences because of the social relations and possibilities in which they act. Understanding social positioning as conditioning rather than determining individual identity, however, gives voice to the intuition that social group members do not have some 'fixed' or 'authentic' group identity that they share. We know from experience that people often have very different attitudes towards being Jewish, say, or being a woman, and act in very different ways regarding these facts. That individual persons freely act in relation to social group positioning makes the possibility of collective action to transform those social relations possible. The multiple positioning of individuals also enables individuals as political actors themselves to draw on knowledge of difference kinds of social and cultural relations for different purposes.

5. What is and is not Identity Politics

Some critics of a politics of difference wrongly reduce them to 'identity politics'. They reduce political movements that arise from specificities of social group difference to assertions of group identity or [103] mere self-regarding interest. Often group-conscious social movements claim that social difference should be taken into account rather than bracketed as a condition of political inclusion for furthering social justice. Yet the label 'identity politics' is not entirely misplaced as a characterization of some claims and self-conceptions of these movements. Now I want to sort out those concerns and public activities plausibly called identity politics from those that are not.

Historically excluded or dominated groups all have organized discourses and cultural expressions aimed at reversing the stereotypes and deprecations with which they claim dominant society has described them. Politically conscious social movements of indigenous people, for example, promote a positive understanding of indigenous governance forms, technology, and art, as a response to colonialist definitions of 'civilized' institutions and practices. Many African Americans in the United States historically and today cultivate pride in the ingenuity of African American resistance institutions and cultural expression as a response to the invisibility and distortion of their lives and experience they have seen in dominant discourses. Where dominant understandings of femininity equate it with relative weakness and selfless nurturing, some feminists have reinterpreted typically womanly activities and relationships as expressions of intelligence and strength. Interpretations and reinterpretations of typical experiences and activities of group members in response to deprecating stereotpyes can rightly be called 'identity politics'. They are often expressed in cultural products such as novels, songs, plays, or paintings. Often they are explicit projects that individual persons take up as an affirmation of their own personal identities in relation to group meaning and affinity with others identified with the group. Their function is partly to encourage solidarity among those with a group affinity, and a sense of political agency in making justice claims to the wider society.

Any movements or organizations mobilizing politically in response to deprecating judgements, marginalization, or inequality in the wider society, I suggest, need to engage in 'identity politics' in this sense. Working-class and poor people's movements have asserted positive group definition in this sense as much as gender, racialized, or colonized groups. Such solidarity-producing cultural politics does consist in the assertion of specificity and difference towards a wider public, from whom the movement expects respect and recognition of its agency and virtues. The public political claims of such groups, however, rarely consist simply in the assertion of one identity as against others, or a simple claim that a group be recognized in its distinctiveness. Instead, claims for recognition usually function as part of or [104] means to claims against discrimination, unequal opportunity, political marginalization, or unfair burdens.

Another kind of movement activity often brought under the label 'identity politics', however, I find more ambiguous. The project of revaluation and reclaiming identity often involves individual and collective exploration of the meaning of a cultural group's histories, practices, and meanings. Many people devote significant energy to documenting these meanings and adding to their creative expression in music, visual images, and written and visual narratives. The exploration of positioned experience and cultural meaning is an important source of the self for most people. For this reason exploring the expressive and documentary possibilities especially of cultural meaning is an intrinsically valuable human enterprise, and one that contributes to the reproduction of social groups. In themselves and apart from conflict and problems of political and economic privilege or civil freedom, however, these are not political enterprises. To the extent that social movements have mistaken these activities for politics, or to the extent that they have displaced political struggles in relation to structural inequalities, critics of identity politics may have some grounds for their complaints.

Projects of the exploration of cultural meaning easily become political, however, under at least the following circumstances. (1) Sometimes people find their liberty to engage in specific cultural practices curtailed, or they face impediments in forming associations to express and preserve their cultural identity. (2) Even where there is social and cultural tolerance, sometimes political conflict erupts over educational practices and curricular context because different groups believe they are entitled to have their children learn their cultural practices and meanings in public schools. (3) Even when they have a formal liberty to explore their affinity group meanings, engage in minority practices, and form associations, sometimes groups find that they cannot get access to media, institutions, and resources they need to further their projects of exploring and creating cultural meaning. These are all familiar and much discussed conflicts often brought under the rubric of 'multicultural' politics. I do not wish to minimize the difficulty and importance of working through such issues. The point here is that most group-based political claims cannot be reduced to such conflicts concerning the expression and preservation of cultural meaning.

Charles Taylor's theory of the politics of recognition is a very influential interpretation of a politics of difference. Taylor argues that cultural group affinity, as well as respect for and preservation of their [105] culture, is deeply important to many people because they provide sources of their selves. A person lacks equal dignity if a group with which he or she is associated does not receive public recognition as having equal status with others. Some political movements thus seek recognition in that sense, as a claim of justice.[26] While I agree that claims for recognition and respect for cultural groups judged different are often made and are claims of justice, I disagree with Taylor and those who have taken up his account that misrecognition is usually a political problem independent of other forms of inequality or oppression. On his account, groups seek recognition for its own sake, to have a sense of pride in their cultural group and preserve its meanings, and not for the sake of or in the process of seeking other goods. But I do not believe this describes most situations in which groups demand recognition. Where there are problems of lack of recognition of national, cultural, religious, or linguistic groups, these are usually tied to questions of control over resources, exclusion from benefits of political influence or economic participation, strategic power, or segregation from opportunities. A politics of recognition, that is, usually is part of or a means to claims for political and social inclusion or an end to structural inequalities that disadvantage them.

Political movements of African Americans today have been interpreted by many as 'identity politics'. An examination of some of the central claims made by African American activists, however, puts such a label into question. Many African Americans call for stronger measures to prevent race-motivated hate crimes and to pursue and punish those who commit them. Agitation continues in many cities to make police more accountable to citizens, in an effort to prevent and punish abuse and arbitrary treatment which African Americans experience more than others. African American politicians and activists continue to argue that institutional racism persists in the American educational, labour market, and housing allocation system, and that more active measures should be taken to enforce anti-discrimination and redistribute resources and positions for the sake of the development of disadvantaged African American individuals and neighbourhoods. Making many of these claims involves asserting that African Americans as a group are positioned differently from other people in American society, and sometimes activists also assert a pride in African American cultural forms and solidarity. The primary claims of justice, however, refer to experiences of structural inequality more than cultural difference.[106]

What of movements of indigenous people? Indigenous politics certainly does entail a claim to recognition of the cultural distinctness of these groups. Indigenous peoples everywhere have suffered colonialist attempts to wipe out their distinct identities as peoples. They have been removed, dispersed, killed; their languages, religious practices, and artistic expression suppressed. They demand of the societies that continue to dominate them recognition and support for their distinct cultures and the freedom to express and rejuvenate those cultures. Colonialist oppression of indigenous people has involved not only cultural imperialism, however, but at the same time and often in the same actions deprivation of the land and resources from which they derived a living, and suppression of their governing institutions. As a result of conquest and subsequent domination and economic marginalization, indigenous people today are often the poorest people in the societies to which they are connected. Primary indigenous demands everywhere, then, are for self-determination over governance institutions and administration of services, and restoration of control over land and resources for the sake of the economic development of the people. Self-determination also involves cultural autonomy.

The 'identity' assertions of cultural groups, I suggest, usually appear in the context of structural relations of privilege and disadvantage. Many Muslims in Europe or North America, for example, assert their right to wear traditional dress in public places, and make claims of religious freedom.[27] Many Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian migrants claim that Germany, the Netherlands, or France ought to accept them with their difference as full members of the society in which they have lived for decades, where their children were born and now live marginal youthful lives. Many of them experience housing, education, and employment discrimination, are targets of xenophobic acts of violence or harassment, and are excluded from or marginalized in political participation. In this sort of context claims for cultural recognition are rarely asserted for their own sake. They are part of demands for political inclusion and equal economic opportunity, where the claimants deny that such equality should entail shedding or privatizing their cultural difference.

Let me review one final example of political claims of justice [that] critics often deride as divisive identity politics: political claims of gay men and lesbians. Especially after internal movement criticisms of efforts [107] to 'identify' what it means to 'be' gay, more people whose desires and actions transgress heterosexual norms, and who find affinities with gay and lesbian institutions, would deny that they have or express a 'gay identity' they share with others. They do claim that they ought to be free to express their desires and to cultivate institutions without hiding, and without fear of harassment, violence, loss of employment, or housing. Many claim, further, that same-sex partners should have access to the same material benefits in tax law, property relations, and access to partner's employment benefits as heterosexual couples can have through marriage. For the most part, these claims of justice are not 'identity' claims. Nor are they simple claims to 'recognition'. They are claims that they should be free to be openly different from the majority without suffering social and economic disadvantage on account of that difference.

To summarize, I have argued in this section that some group-based political discourses and demands can properly be labelled 'identity politics'. Sometimes groups seek to cultivate mutual identification among those similarly situated, and in doing so they may indeed express conflict and confrontation with others who are differently situated, against whom they make claims that they wrongfully suffer domination or oppression. Such solidarity-forming 'identity politics' is as typical of obviously structurally differentiated groups such as economic classes, however, as of marginalized cultural groups. Multicultural politics concerning freedom of expression, the content of curricula, official languages, access to media, and the like, moreover, can properly be called 'identity politics'. Most group-conscious political claims, however, are not claims to the recognition of identity as such, but rather claims for fairness, equal opportunity, and political inclusion.

Critics of the politics of difference worry about the divisiveness of such claims. There is no question that such claims often provoke disagreement and conflict. When diverse groups makes claims of justice, however, we cannot reject them simply on the grounds that others' disagreement with or hostility to them produces conflict. Norms of inclusive communicative democracy require that claims directed at a public with the aim of persuading members of that public that injustices occur must be given a hearing, and require criticism of those who refuse to listen. Appeals to a common good that exhort people to put aside their experienced differences will not promote justice when structural inequality or deep disagreement exist. I shall now argue that such group-based conflict or disagreement is more likely to be avoided or overcome when a public includes differently situated voices that speak across their difference and are accountable to one another. [108]

6. Communication across Difference in Public Judgement

We can now return to arguments such as Elshtain's that a politics of difference endangers democracy because it encourages self-regarding parochialism and destroys a genuine public life. Elshtain conceptualizes genuine democratic process as one in which participants assume a public mantle of citizenship which cloaks the private and partial and differentiated, on the one hand, and enters an impartial and unitary realm, on the other. Either politics is nothing but competition among private interests, in which case there is no public spirit; or politics is a commitment to equal respect for other citizens in a civil public discussion that puts aside private affiliation and interest to seek a common good. I believe that this is a false dichotomy.

Difference, Civility, and Political Co-operation

When confronted so starkly with an opposition between difference and civility, most must opt for civility. But a conception of deliberative politics which insists on putting aside or transcending partial and particularist differences forgets or denies the lesson that the politics of difference claims to teach. If group-based positional differences give to some people greater power, material and cultural resources, and authoritative voice, then social norms and discourses which appear impartial are often biased. Under circumstances of structural social and economic inequality, the relative power of some groups often allows them to dominate the definition of the common good in ways compatible with their experience, perspective, and priorities. A common consequence of social privilege is the ability of a group to convert its perspective on some issues into authoritative knowledge without being challenged by those who have reason to see things differently. Such a dynamic is a major way that political inequality helps reproduce social and economic inequality even in formally democratic processes.

It is especially ironic that some critics on the left, such as Gitlin and Harvey, reject a politics of difference, and argue that class offers a vision of commonality as opposed to the partiality of gender or race. For those aiming to speak from the perspective of the working class have long argued that the economic and social power of the capitalist class allows that class perspective to dominate political and cultural institutions as well, and to pass for a universal perspective. The capitalist class is able to control deliberative modes and policy decisions for the sake of its interests and at the same time to represent those [109] interests as common or universal interests. On this account, the only way to expose that such claims to the common good serve certain particular interests or reflect the experience and perspective of particular social segments primarily is publicly to assert the interests not served by the allegedly common policies, and publicly to articulate the specificity of the experiences and perspectives they exclude. Claims by feminists that the formulation and priorities of issues often assume masculine experience as normative, or by racialized or ethnic minorities that the political agenda presumes the privilege and experience of majorities, are extensions of this sort of analysis. To the degree that a society is in fact differentiated by structural relations of privilege and disadvantage, claims that everyone in the society has some common interests or a common good must be subject to deep scrutiny, and can only be validated by critical discussion that specifically attends to the differentiated social positions.

At least while circumstances of structural privilege and disadvantage persist, a politics that aims to promote justice through public discussion and decision-making must theorize and aim to practise a third way, alternative to either private interest competition or difference bracketing public discussion of the common good. This third way consists in a process of public discussion and decision-making which includes and affirms the particular social group positions relevant to issues. It does so in order to draw on the situated knowledge of the people located in different group positions as resources for enlarging the understanding of everyone and moving them beyond their own parochial interests.[28]

It is simply not true that, when political actors articulate particularist interests and experiences and claim that public policy ought to attend to social difference, they are necessarily asserting self-regarding interests against those of others. Undoubtedly groups sometimes merely assert their own interests or preferences, but sometimes they make claims of injustice and justice. Sometimes those speaking to a [110] wider public on behalf of labour, or women, or Muslims, or indigenous peoples make critical and normative appeals, and they are prepared to justify their criticisms and demands. When they make such appeals with such an attitude, they are not behaving in a separatist and inward-looking way, even though their focus is on their own particular situation. By criticizing the existing institutions and policies, or criticizing other groups' claims and proposals, they appeal to a wider public for inclusion, recognition, and equity. Such public expression implies that they acknowledge and affirm a political engagement with those they criticize, with whom they struggle.

Critics who emphasize appeals to a common good are surely right to claim that workable democratic politics requires of citizens some sense of being together with one another in order to sustain the commitment that seeking solutions to conflict under circumstances of difference and inequality requires. It is far too strong, however, to claim that this sense of being together requires mutual identification. Nor should such togetherness be conceived as a search for shared interests or common good beyond the goal of solving conflicts and problems in democratically acceptable ways. Trying to solve problems justly may sometimes mean that some people's perceived interests are not served, especially when issues involve structural relations of privilege. Even when the most just solutions to political problems do not entail promoting some interests more than others, fairness usually involves co-ordinating diverse goods and interests rather than achieving a common good.

Political co-operation requires a less substantial unity than shared understandings or a common good, which I reviewed in Chapter 1. It requires first that people whose lives and actions affect one another in a web of institutions, interactions, and unintended consequences acknowledge that they are together in such space of mutual effect. Their conflicts and problems are produced by such togetherness. The unity required by political co-operation also entails that the people who are together in this way are committed to trying to work out their conflicts and to solve the problems generated by their collective action through means of peaceful and rule-bound decision-making. Political co-operation requires, finally, that those who are together in this way understand themselves as members of a single polity. That means only that they conduct their problem-solving discussions and decision-making under agreed-upon and publicly acknowledged procedures.

These unity conditions for democratic decision-making are certainly rare enough in the world, difficult both to produce and [111] maintain. Common good theorists no doubt fear that attending to group differences in public discussion endangers commitment to co-operative decision-making. Perhaps sometimes it does. More often, however, I suggest, groups or factions refuse co-operation because, at least from their point of view, their experience, needs, and interests have been excluded or marginalized from the political agenda, or are suppressed in discussions and decision-making. Only explicit and differentiated forms of inclusion can diminish the occurrence of such refusals, especially when members of some groups are more privileged in some or many respects.

Difference and the Public

Understanding how social difference is a potential resource for democratic communication means interpreting the meaning of a public differently from the way Elshtain and others do. As I showed earlier, Elshtain opposes the public to particular, partial, and differentiated social segments. As citizen, a person leaves behind or brackets the particularities of her life to enter a common space where she shares with others the universal and impartial perspective of the citizen. In my view, however, such an interpretation of the universality of citizenship actually obliterates the possibility of publicity. I follow Hannah Arendt and recent interpretations of her political thought in understanding plurality rather than unity as a defining characteristic of a public.

For Arendt the public is not a comfortable place of conversation among those who share language, assumptions, and ways of looking at issues. Arendt conceives the public as a place of appearance where actors stand before others and are subject to mutual scrutiny and judgement from a plurality of perspectives. The public consists of multiple histories and perspectives relatively unfamiliar to one another, connected yet distant and irreducible to one another. A conception of publicity that requires its members to put aside their differences in order to uncover their common good destroys the very meaning of publicity because it aims to turn the many into one. In the words of Lisa Disch, The definitive quality of the public space is particularity: that the plurality of perspectives that constitute it is irreducible to a single common denominator. A claim to decisive authority reduces those perspectives to a single one, effectively discrediting the claims of other political actors and closing off public discussion. Meaning is not inherent in action, but public, which is to say, constituted by the interpretative contest among the plurality of [112] perspectives in the public realm that confer plurality on action and thereby make it real.[29]

Differently situated actors create democratic publicity by acknowledging that they are together and that they must work together to try to solve collective problems. Creation and sustenance of publicity in this sense, as I discussed in Chapter 1, involves the willingness on the part of participants to make claims and proposals in ways that aim to achieve understanding by others with different interests, experience, and situation, and to try to persuade them of the justice of their claims. It requires openness to the claims of others, and, as discussed in Chapter 2, a willingness to listen to their particular mode of expression. At the same time it involves holding others accountable through questioning and criticizing their communication and action.

A democratic public ought to be fully inclusive of all social groups because the plurality of perspectives they offer to the public helps to disclose the reality and objectivity of the world in which they dwell together. Thus Arendt says that the public 'signifies the world itself, insofar as it is common to all of us and distinguished from our privately owned place in it .... To live together in the world means essentially that a world of things is between those who have it in common, as a table is located between, relates and separates men at the same time.[30] The appearance of a shared world to all who dwell within it precisely requires that they are plural, differentiated, and separate, with different locations in and perspectives on that world that are the product of their social action. By communicating to one another their differing perspectives on the social world in which they dwell together, they collectively constitute an enlarged understanding of that world.

Difference, Knowledge, and Objectivity

A key feature of the normative ideal of communicative democracy is that it facilitates the transformation of the desires and opinions of citizens from an initial partial, narrow, or self-regarding understanding[113] of issues and problems, to a more comprehensive understanding that takes the needs and interests of others more thoroughly into account. Processes of political communication ought and sometimes do move people from a merely subjective to a more objective way of looking at problems and solutions. The thinking of the participants in a public inclusive communicative process is enlarged: instead of understanding issues only from the point of view of my partial and parochial experience and interests, I move to a point of view that aims to make a judgement of justice that places my interests among others.

Modern thought has often conceptualized objectivity as achieved by transcending particularities of social position and experience, abstracting from them to construct a standpoint outside and above them that is general rather than particular. All the critics of a politics of difference whom I have cited appear to assume that a normatively objective concern for justice requires such bracketing or transcending of particular social location and adopting a 'view from nowhere'. There are at least two problems with such an interpretation of objectivity, especially when the inquiry involves assessment of social problems and rival proposals for solving them justly. First, a monological method of bracketing or abstracting from the particularities of social position is notoriously unreliable. How can I and others be confident that I have not carried over assumptions and conclusions derived from my particular standpoint into the supposedly objective general standpoint? In making judgements about public or political action, how can I be sure that I have not given more weight to my own desires and interests than to the legitimate interests of others? Only the critical and differentiated perspectives of a plurality of others who discuss my claims and judgements can validate the objectivity of the latter.

Secondly, even if the previous problem were solved, in political communication our goal is not to arrive at some generalities, certainly not generalizations about social interaction or principles of justice. Instead, we are looking for just solutions to particular problems in a particular social context. The conclusions to political discussion and argument, that is, are particular judgements about what ought to be done. Appeals to principle have a place in such discussion, but they must be applied to particular situations in the context of particular social relationships. Thus participants in political discussion cannot transcend their particularity. If participants are to make objective judgements appropriate for their context, they must express their own particularity to others and learn of the particularity of those differently situated in the social world where they dwell together. [114]

We thus need a different account of the distinction between a merely subjective or self-regarding point of view and an objective point of view. On this account, objectivity is an achievement of democratic communication that includes all differentiated social positions. Objectivity in political judgement, as I understand that term, does not consist in discovering some truth about politics or institutions independent of the awareness and action of social members. But it is also not simply some kind of sum of their differentiated viewpoints. An objective account of social relations and social problems, and an objective judgement of what policies and actions would address those problems, instead are accounts and judgements people construct for themselves from a critical, reflective, and persuasive interaction among their diverse experiences and opinion.

Hilary Putnam offers one such theory of objectivity. Interpreting Dewey's understanding of intelligence and democracy as a method of solving social problems, Putnam argues that objectivity is a product of inclusive democratic communication. Without such inclusive discussion, privileged social positions are able to make judgements and take actions that suit themselves and rationalizations for them that go unchallenged.[31]

Feminist epistemologists offer an account of objectivity as a product of what Donna Haraway calls 'situated knowledges'.[32] In socially differentiated societies, individuals have particular knowledge that arises from experience in their social positions, and those social positionings also influence the interests and assumptions they bring to inquiry.[33] All positionings are partial with respect to the inquiry. Where there are structural differences of privilege and disadvantage, [115] and where these have conditioned the discourses of received knowledge, the explicit voicing of the plurality of positions and their confirming or criticizing one another is necessary for objectivity.[34]

From Obstacle to Resource

Especially where there are structural relations of privilege and disad-vantage, then, explicit inclusion and recognition of differentiated social positions provides experiential and critical resources for democratic communication that aims to promote justice. Inclusion of differentiated groups is important not only as a means of demonstrating equal respect and to ensure that all legitimate interests in the polity receive expression, though these are fundamental reasons for democratic inclusion. Inclusion has two additional functions. First, it motivates participants in political debate to transform their claims from mere expressions of self-regarding interest to appeals to justice. Secondly, it maximizes the social knowledge available to a democratic public, such that citizens are more likely to make just and wise decisions. I will elaborate each of these points.

Having to be accountable to people from diverse social positions with different needs, interests, and experience helps transform discourse from self-regard to appeals to justice. Because others are not likely to accept 'I want this' or 'This policy is in my interest' as reasons to accept a proposal, the requirement that discussion participants try to make their claims understandable and persuasive to others means they must frame the proposals in terms of justice. Appealing to justice here does not necessarily mean that the others agree with a person's or group's principle or judgements of what justice requires. It means only that they frame their assertions to the others in terms of fairness of [116] rights that they claim take others' interests into account and which others ought therefore to accept. Contrary to what some theorists of deliberative democracy suggest, policy proposals need not be expressed in terms of a common interest, an interest all can share. Indeed, some claims of justice are not likely to express an interest all can share, because they are claims that actions should be taken to reduce the privilege some people are perceived to have. Many other claims or proposals will not directly confront privilege, but will be multiple expressions of need and preference among which a polity must sort out relative moral legitimacy and relative priority. To make such claims, social difference must be generally recognized.

Inclusion of and attention to socially differentiated positions in democratic discussion tends to correct biases and situate the partial perspective of participants in debate. Confrontation with different perspectives, interests, and cultural meanings teaches each the partiality of their own and reveals to them their own experience as perspectival. Listening to those differently situated from myself and my close associates teaches me how my situation looks to them, in what relation they think I stand to them. Such a contextualizing of perspective is especially important for groups that have power, authority, or privilege. Those in structurally superior positions not only take their experience, preferences, and opinions to be general, uncontroversial, ordinary, and even an expression of suffering or disadvantage, as we all do, but also have the power to represent these as general norms. Having to answer to others who speak from different, less privileged, perspectives on their social relations exposes their partiality and relative blindness.[35] By including multiple perspectives, and not simply two that might be in direct contention over an issue, we take a giant step towards enlarging thought. Where there are differences in interests, values, or judgements between members of two interdependent but differently positioned groups, the fact that both must be accountable to differently situated others further removed from those relations can motivate each to reflect on fairness to a11.[36] Where such [117] exposure to the public judgement and criticism of multiply situated others does not lead them to shut down dialogue and instead leads some to try to force their preferences on policy, this process can lead to a better understanding of the requirements of justice.

By pointing out how the standpoint of those in less privileged positions can reveal otherwise unnoticed bias and partiality I do not mean to suggest, as have some standpoint theorists, that people in less advantaged social positions are 'epistemically privileged'. They too are liable to bias and self-regard in overstating the nature of situations, misunderstanding their causes, or laying blame in the wrong place. Some partialities and misunderstandings can best be exposed by discussion with differently situated others. Susan Wendell offers one example of how the experience and perspective of a structural social group can contribute to the social knowledge of everyone in order to promote more justice. When people with disabilities have the opportunity to express their perceptions of biases in the socially constructed environment or expectations of functions needed to perform tasks, then everyone learns how to see the social environment differently.[37]

Aiming to promote social justice through public action requires more than framing debate in terms that appeal to justice. It requires an objective understanding of the society, a comprehensive account of its relations and structured processes, its material locations and environmental conditions, a detailed knowledge of events and conditions in different places and positions, and the ability to predict the likely consequences of actions and policies. Only pooling the situated knowledge of all social positions can produce such social knowledge.

Among the sorts of situated knowledge that people in differentiated social positions have are: (1) an understanding of their position, and how it stands in relation to other positions; (2) a social map of other salient positions, how they are defined, and the relation in which they stand to this position; (3) a point of view on the history of the society; (4) an interpretation of how the relations and processes of the whole society operate, especially as they affect one's own position; (5) a position-specific experience and point of view on the natural and physical environment.

Norms of communicative democracy assume that differently situated individuals understand that they are nevertheless related in a [118] world of interaction and internal effects that affects them all, but differently. If they aim to solve their collective problems, they must listen across their differences to understand how proposals and policies affect others differently situated. They learn what takes place in different social locations and how social processes appear to connect and conflict from different points of view. By internalizing such a mediated understanding, participants in democratic discussion and decision-making gain a wider picture of social processes structuring their own partial experience. Such an enlarged view better enables them to arrive at wise and just solutions to collective problems to the extent that they are committed to doing so.

Paying specific attention to differentiated social groups in democratic discussion and encouraging public expression of their situated knowledge thus often makes it more possible than it would otherwise be for people to transform conflict and disagreement into agreement. Speaking across differences in a context of public accountability often reduces mutual ignorance about one another's situations, or misunderstanding of one another's values, intentions, and perceptions, and gives everyone the enlarged thought necessary to come to more reasonable and fairer solutions to problems. Complete agreement is rare, of course, even when people act with a co-operative spirit, for contingent reasons: there isn't enough time, organizing discussion is too difficult, people lose concentration and become frustrated, and so on. Procedures of majority rule and compromise are thus often necessary, and do not violate commitments to democratic legitimacy as long as persons and groups have reason to believe that they have had opportunity to influence the outcome.

As I discussed in Chapter 1, however, some disagreement may be endemic on certain issues in the context of social structures differentiated by interdependent relations of privilege and disadvantage. Many contemporary political theorists conceptualize the sources of such deep disagreement in cultural differences or differences in basic world-view and value framework; fundamental disagreements of that sort certainly do surface in most societies over some issues. Such attention to cultural pluralism, however, has diverted attention from a more common source of deep disagreement: structural conflict of interest. A basis of many disagreements about wage, trade, or welfare policy within capitalist structural relations, for example, is neither ill will nor ignorance nor difference in cultural meaning, but the structural fact that, at least sometimes, wages or public services provided for workers implies profit forgone for firms. One can argue that some disagreements over reproductive policy, the care of children, and the [119] proper relationship of workplace to family responsibility reflect the structural inequalities of gender. By including diverse social positions in political discussion, we may not bring about agreed-on solutions so much as reveal the structural conflicts of interest that would be obscured by discussion which successfully claimed that at bottom we have common interests. If in fact a society is structurally divided in this way, then deliberative processes ought to aim to reveal and confront such division, rather than exhort those who may have morally legitimate grievances to suppress them for the sake of some people's definition of a common good.

The claim that social difference provides a resource for democratic communication, then, does not necessarily imply that inclusion will make political communication easier, more efficient, or better able to arrive at agreement. On the contrary, in some situations greater inclusion may lead to greater complexity and difficulty in reaching decisions. This is an argument against attending to situated knowledge only if the political goal is to arrive at public decisions as quickly and with as little contest as possible. Public and private policy-makers often do have this goal, of course, but to reach it they often need to keep a process under tight and exclusive control. For many routine, trivial, or administrative decisions such a goal may not be inappropriate, though it can be called democratic only if the decisions are embedded in a wider and more contestable public policy discussion. A primary goal of democratic discussion and decision-making ought to be to promote justice in solving problems, however, and I have argued that this goal requires inclusion even if it creates complexity and reveals conflicts of interest that can only be resolved by changing structural relations.

The argument of this chapter fills out the meaning of inclusive democracy. Inclusion ought not to mean simply the formal and abstract equality of all members of the polity as citizens. It means explicitly acknowledging social differentiations and divisions and encouraging differently situated groups to give voice to their needs, interests, and perspectives on the society in ways that meet conditions of reasonableness and publicity. This thicker meaning of inclusion highlights the importance of valuing diverse models of communication in democratic discussion. Greeting, or public address, is a mode of communication in which members of a public recognize the plurality of groups and perspectives that constitute it. Narrative is an important means of conveying the situated knowledge of differently positioned people; without the thick description of needs and problems and consequences that concrete stories can provide, political [120]judgements may rest on social understandings that are too abstract. Narrative is also a necessary means of relating both the history of socially differentiated groups and their perceptions of the history of the whole society in its relationships. Finally, open listening involves attending to diverse ways that people express themselves by idiom, tone, and image. Thus, as I argued in the previous chapter, rhetoric is an important means by which people situated in particular social positions can adjust their claims to be heard by those in differing social situations.


1. Jean Bethke Elshtain, Democracy on Trial (New York: Basic Books, 1995), 74.

2. David Miller, On Nationality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 132.

3. Todd Gitlin, Twilight of Common Dreams (New York: Metropolitan Books, 1995); David Harvey, Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), esp. ch. 12.

4. For some examples of critiques of essentialism and a politics of identity frown within theories and movements that support a politics of difference, see Elizabeth V. Spelman, Inessential Woman (Boston: Beacon Press, 1988); Anna Yeatman, 'Minorities and the Politics of Difference', in Postmodern Revisions of the Political (New York: Routledge, 1994); Michael Dyson, 'Essentialism and the Complexities of Racial Identity', in David Theo Goldberg (ed.), Multiculturalism (Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1994):; Steven Seidman, 'Identity and Politics in a "Postmodern" Gay Culture' in Difference Troubles: Queering Social Theory and Sexual Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

5. Compare Anne Phillips, The Politics of Presence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), ch. 6.

6. Spelman, Inessential Woman; Maria Lugones 'Purity, Impurity and Separation', Signs: A Journal of Women in Cultural and Society, 19/2 (Winter 1994), 458-79.

7. For an account of groups as constituted relations see Larry May, The Morality of Groups (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988); and Sharing Responsibility (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993).

8. In earlier work I have distinguished these three terms, aggregates, associations, and social groups, and I rely on these conceptualizations here. See Justice and the Politics of Difference (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), ch. 2.

9. Martha Minow proposes a relational understanding of group difference; see Making All the Difference (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1990), pt. ii. I have referred to a relational analysis of group difference injustice and the Politics of Difference, ch. 2; in that earlier formulation, however, I have not distinguished group affiliation from personal identity as strongly as I will later in this chapter. For relational understandings of group difference, see also William Connolly, Identity/Difference (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993); and Chantal Mouffe, 'Democracy, Power and the "Political"', in Seyla Benhabib (ed.), Democracy and Difference (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996).

10. The following effort to articulate the naming of structural social groups and use that concept to argue against an 'identity politics' interpretation of the claims of differencebased social movements is partly motivated by a desire to think through further some of the issues raised in an exchange I have had with Nancy Fraser. See Fraser, 'From Redistribution to Recognition? Dilemmas of Justice in a "Post-Socialist" Age', New Left Review, 212 (July-Aug. 1995), 68-99; and Iris Marion Young, 'Unruly Categories: A Critique of Nancy Fraser's Dual Systems Theory', New Left Review, 222 (Mar.-Apr. 1997), 147-60. Fraser's initial paper importantly reminded theorists of justice and multiculturalism of issues of structural oppression and possible transformation. Fraser herself oversimplifies the meaning of a politics of difference as identity politics, however, and I believe inappropriately dichotomizes issues of culture and structure.

11. See e.g., William Julius Wilson, When Work Disappears (New York: Knopf, 1997); see also jean Hampton, Political Philosophy (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1997), 189-90.

12. Marilyn Frye, 'Oppression', in The Politics of Reality (Trumansburg, NY: Crossing Press, 1983).

13. Susan Okin, Justice, Gender and the Family (New York: Basic Books, 1989).

14. Peter Blau, Inequality and Heterogeneity (New York: Free Press, 1977), 4.

15. Anthony Giddens, The Constitution of Society (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984).

16. For a clear and thorough account of class in a contemporary Marxist mode, see Eric Olin Wright, Class Counts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

17. Jean-Paul Sartre, Critique of Dialectical Reason, trans. Alan Sheridan-Smith (London: New Left Books, 1976), bk. 1, ch. 3.

18. See Douglas Massey and Nancy Demon, American Apartheid (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993).

19. Sartre calls such effects counter-finalities; see Critique of Dialectical Reason, 277-92.

20. Anita Silvers develops a thorough and persuasive account of why issues of justice regarding people with disabilities should focus on the relation of bodies to physical and social environments, rather than on the needs and capacities of individuals called disabled. See Silvers, 'Formal Justice', in Anita Silvers, David Wasserman, and Mary B. Mahowald (eds.), Disability, Difference, Discrimination: Perspectives on Justice in Bioethics and Public Policy (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998).

21. There are different theoretical approaches to such an idea that subjects are positioned by prior social relations. Lacanian-inspired theories describe the positioning of persons in terms of dominant discourses constituting social positions and their relative power and status; see Rosalind Coward and John Ellis, Language and Materialism (London: Routlege & Kegan Paul 1977), 49-60; Diana Fuss, Essentially Speaking: Feminism, Nature and Difference (New York: Routledge, 1989); Bill Martin, Matrix and Line (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993); Liz Bondi discusses the meaning of a shift from identity to position in the terms for thinking about the relation of individuals to social groups. She argues that the shift does not entirely avoid problems of essentialism, but that it better enables thinking of groups as constituted through relations among persons. Bondi, 'Locating Identity Politics', in Michael Keith and Steve Pile (eds.), Place and the Politics of Identity (London: Routledge, 1993). Other theories rely on the tradition of interactionism begun by George Herbert Mead, which describes the formation of the self through the internalization of naming and norming relations of others; see Jurgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, I (Boston: Beacon Press, 1984); Axel Honneth, Struggle for Recognition (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1995).

22. Iris Marion Young, 'Gender as Seriality: Thinking about Women as a Social Collective', in Intersecting Voices: Dilemmas of Gender, Political Philosophy and Policy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997).

23. Charles Taylor, 'Multiculturalism and the Politics of Recognition', in Amy Gutmann (ed.), Multiculturalism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992). Taylor theorizes culture as a source of the self in just this way, not as determinative, but as providing meanings through which individuals exercise their freedom. See also Yael Tamir, Liberal Nationalism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).

24. Gloria Anzaldua expresses this active appropriation of one's own multiple group positionalities as a process of 'making faces': 'Haciendo Caras, una entrada/An Introduction', in Gloria Anzaldua (ed.), Making Face, Making Soul/ Haciendo Caras (San Francisco: Aunt Lute Foundation, 1990).

25. Kwami Anthony Appiah, 'Identity, Authenticity, Survival: Multicultural Societies and Social Reproduction', in Amy Gutmann (ed.), Multiculturalism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 155.

26. Taylor, 'Multiculturalism and the Politics of Recognition'.

27. See Joseph Carens and Melissa Williams, 'Muslim Minorities in Liberal Democracies: Justice and the Limits of Toleration', in Carens (ed.), Culture, Citizenship, and Community: A Contextual Exploration of Justice as Evenhandedness (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

28. I find the conception of deliberative democracy elaborated by James Bohman a version of this third way. Bohman criticizes communitarian or neo-republican interpretations of publicity and deliberation as requiring too much consensus. He constructs a weaker version of publicity and legitimacy that are explicitly open to social difference and inequality which recognizes that ideals of impartiality and common good are problematic in complex democracies with cultural differences and structural inequalities. See Public Deliberation (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1996). In some of his most recent work Jurgen Habermas has shifted from a more unifying view to one which emphasizes more the need to attend to social differences. See 'Does Europe Need a Constitution? Reponse to Dieter Grimm', and 'Struggles for Recognition in the Democratic Constitutional State', both in The Inclusion of the Other: Studies in Political Theory (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1998).

29. Lisa Disch, Hannah Arendt and the Limits of Philosophy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994), 80; compare Anna Yeatman, 'Justice and the Sovereign Self', in Anna Yeatman and Margaret Wilson (eds.), Justice and Identity: Antipodean Practices (Wellington: Bridget Williams Books 1995). On an interpretation of the Arendtian public in terms of plurality, see Susan Bickford, The Dissonance of Democracy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1996), ch. 3.

30. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998) 52.

31. See Hilary Putnam, 'A Reconsideration of Deweyan Democracy', Southern California Late Review, 63/6 (Sept. 1990), 1671-97; and 'Pragmatism and Moral Objectivity', in Martha Nussbaum and Jonathan Glover (eds.), Women, Culture and Development (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995); see also Linda Alcoff's comment on Putnam in the same volume; see also Cheryl Misak, 'Pragmatism, Truth, and the Worthwhile,' University of Toronto; Mishak also connects objectivity, esp. about moral matters, to the enactment of democratic principles of openness and understanding perspectives and experiences of others.

32. Donna Haraway, 'Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective', in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women (New York: Routledge, 1991).

33. See Jennifer Hochschild 'Where you Stand Depends on What you See: Connections among Values Perceptions of Fact and Prescriptions' in James Kuklinski (ed.), Citizens and Politics: Perspectives from Political Psychology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2000). Hochschild reviews survey results that show that people often misperceive social facts in similar ways according to social positions of class, race, gender, and the like, and also that people's opinions about priority issues and their correct perception of certain facts often correlate with their social group position.

34. See Sandra Harding, Whose Science? Which Knowledge? Thinking from Women's Lives (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991); Ismay Barwell, 'Towards a Defense of Objectivity', in Kathleen Lennon and Margaret Whitford (eds.), Knowing the Difference: Feminist Perspectives in Epistemology (London: Routledge, 1994). Patricia Hill Collins develops the idea that there are specific social knowledges arising from social structural location in her account of an Afrocentric feminist epistemology; see Black Feminist Thought (New York: Routledge, 1991), esp. chs. 10 and 11; Linda Martin Alcoff, Real Knowing; New Versions of Coherence Theory (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1996), esp. ch. 3; Satya Mohanty has developed an account of social objectivity as a product of the interaction of ideas based in social locations. See Mohanty, 'The Epistemic Status of Cultural Identity', Cultural Critique, 24 (Spring 1993), 41-80; Paula Moya has applied Mohanty's approach to the specific context of Latina feminism; see Moya, 'Postmodernism "Realism" and the Politics of Identity: Cherrie Moraga and Chicana Feminism', in Chandra Talpade Mohant and M. Jacquie Alexander (eds.), Feminist Genealogies, Colonial Legacies, Democratic Futures (New York: Routledge, 1997).

35. In the context of legal judgment and the responsibilities of judges, Martha Minow discusses the importance of multiple perspectives as a means of dislodging unstated assumptions about social relations and their consequences or assumptions about what is normal that are influenced by particular social positions; see Making All the Difference (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1990), esp. ch. 11; compare Bohman Public Deliberation 102.

36. Jodi Dean argues for a model of dialogic solidarity in which participants do not merely address one another but speak in the presence of a 'situated hypothetic third'. This appeal to the 'third' invokes the function of more distant third parties in motivating parties who either think they are allied or think they are in conflict to remember the interests and perspectives of those outside this relationship; in the above point I wish to emphasize the importance of the actual presence of thirds. Nevertheless, I see the point of Dean invoking a 'hypothetical' third as the position of the differend that may always be there but silenced and not included. See Jodi Dean, Solidarity of Strangers (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).

37. Susan Wendell, The Rejected Body (New York: Routledge, 1996), 66-9.