Feminism as Revolutionary Practice: From Justice and the Politics of Recognition to Freedom
Article first published online: 3 JAN 2012
© by Hypatia, Inc.
Volume 28, Issue 1, pages 197–214, February 2013
How to Cite
Borren, M. (2013), Feminism as Revolutionary Practice: From Justice and the Politics of Recognition to Freedom. Hypatia, 28: 197–214. doi: 10.1111/j.1527-2001.2011.01260.x
- Issue published online: 31 JAN 2013
- Article first published online: 3 JAN 2012
In the 1980s extra-parliamentary social movements and critical theories of race, class, and gender added a new sociocultural understanding of justice—recognition—to the much older socioeconomic one. The best-known form of the struggle for recognition is the identity politics of disadvantaged groups. I argue that there is still another option to conceptualize their predicament, neglected in recent political philosophy, which understands exclusion not in terms of injustice, more particularly a lack of sociocultural recognition, but in terms of a lack of freedom. I draw my inspiration from Hannah Arendt's model of political action. Arendt diagnoses exclusion not solely as a mode of injustice, but as a lack of participation and public freedom. Consequently, she advocates a struggle for participation, political equality, and freedom as a strategy for emancipation or empowerment. Arendt could help feminists see that collective empowerment is made possible not by a shared identity (the target of poststructuralist critics) but by common action in the service of a particular worldly issue or common end. In other words, feminists would do well to appreciate the revolutionary quality and heritage of the feminist movement better, that is, its character as a set of practices of freedom.