Feminist Politics in the Age of Recognition: A Two-Dimensional Approach to Gender Justice
In the course of the last thirty years, feminist theories of gender have shifted from quasi-Marxist, labor-centered conceptions to putatively “post-Marxist”culture- and identity-based conceptions. Reflecting a broader political move from redistribution to recognition, this shift has been double-edged. On the one hand, it has broadened feminist politics to encompass legitimate issues of representation, identity, and difference. Yet, in the context of an ascendant neoliberalism, feminist struggles for recognition may be serving to less to enrich struggles for redistribution than to displace the latter. I aim to resist that trend. In this essay, I propose an analysis of gender that is broad enough to house the full range of feminist concerns, those central to the old socialist-feminism as well as those rooted in the cultural turn. I also propose a correspondingly broad conception of justice, capable of encompassing both distribution and recognition, and a non-identitarian account of recognition, capable of synergizing with redistribution. I conclude by examining some practical problems that arise when we try to envision institutional reforms that could redress gender maldistribution and gender misrecognition simultaneously.
social justice; feminism; representation; identity; redistribution; recognition