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Justice and Society: Problems of Reformist Politics

Spång, Mikael LU (1999) In Lund political studies 111.
Abstract
The subject of the dissertation is a theoretical discussion of the possibilities and limitations of reformist politics. Theories of social justice and democracy are discussed and assessed in relation to the argument that reformist politics, which underlie the welfare state program, is a contradictory politics. It is suggested that it is contradictory because reformism is constituted by a double relinquishment. Projects to set aside capitalism and the development of a radical-democratic conception of politics are both relinquished. The implications of this are discussed in relation to conflicts around the ideas of liberty and equality, the formulation of morality, and the role of ethical accounts of injustices, as well as the necessary... (More)
The subject of the dissertation is a theoretical discussion of the possibilities and limitations of reformist politics. Theories of social justice and democracy are discussed and assessed in relation to the argument that reformist politics, which underlie the welfare state program, is a contradictory politics. It is suggested that it is contradictory because reformism is constituted by a double relinquishment. Projects to set aside capitalism and the development of a radical-democratic conception of politics are both relinquished. The implications of this are discussed in relation to conflicts around the ideas of liberty and equality, the formulation of morality, and the role of ethical accounts of injustices, as well as the necessary relativization of law or the legal medium for a radical-democratic conception of politics. These discussions serve to to reveal both the problems within reformist politics as well as that of how to overcome them. In the last chapter a concept of social unfreedom is developed in order to account for situations when participants are not able to describe injustices as such and/or are not able to formulate what justice requires. This concept is developed in terms of a reconstruction of Marx' theme of alienation, which can be understood as an account of reification on the one hand, and as a form of rationality whereby reifications can be dissolved on the other. The former, it is argued, are inversions of freedom and equality characteristic for capitalist societies. The account of reification in terms of inversion reveals a displacement of the normative presuppositions for pratices or principles, and the circumstances for their realization. This inversion can neither be accounted for nor dissolved along the lines of theories of equal liberty or similar sorts of normative presuppositions but instead necessiates a simultaneous stress on a politics of need-interpretation and a politics for the satisfaction of needs whereby contradictions are followed up. Since such a politics will have to pursue contrary claims depending on the political conjuncture, it is important that the possibility to shift between various modes of problematizations is developed. The undifferentiated notion of rationality developed in the last chapter is supposed to allow for this. (Less)
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author
opponent
  • Associate Professor Harste, Gorm, Aarhus University, Denmark
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
communication, good, right, ethics, morality, social unfreedom, equality, freedom, democracy, social justice, capitalism, reformism, social democracy, Management of enterprises, Företagsledning, management
in
Lund political studies
volume
111
pages
266 pages
publisher
Department of Political Science, Lund University
defense location
Palaestra, Lund
defense date
1999-12-08 10:15
ISSN
0460-0037
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
bf2b578e-752d-4882-946d-8faebda50970 (old id 19173)
date added to LUP
2007-05-25 08:27:50
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:44:57
@phdthesis{bf2b578e-752d-4882-946d-8faebda50970,
  abstract     = {The subject of the dissertation is a theoretical discussion of the possibilities and limitations of reformist politics. Theories of social justice and democracy are discussed and assessed in relation to the argument that reformist politics, which underlie the welfare state program, is a contradictory politics. It is suggested that it is contradictory because reformism is constituted by a double relinquishment. Projects to set aside capitalism and the development of a radical-democratic conception of politics are both relinquished. The implications of this are discussed in relation to conflicts around the ideas of liberty and equality, the formulation of morality, and the role of ethical accounts of injustices, as well as the necessary relativization of law or the legal medium for a radical-democratic conception of politics. These discussions serve to to reveal both the problems within reformist politics as well as that of how to overcome them. In the last chapter a concept of social unfreedom is developed in order to account for situations when participants are not able to describe injustices as such and/or are not able to formulate what justice requires. This concept is developed in terms of a reconstruction of Marx' theme of alienation, which can be understood as an account of reification on the one hand, and as a form of rationality whereby reifications can be dissolved on the other. The former, it is argued, are inversions of freedom and equality characteristic for capitalist societies. The account of reification in terms of inversion reveals a displacement of the normative presuppositions for pratices or principles, and the circumstances for their realization. This inversion can neither be accounted for nor dissolved along the lines of theories of equal liberty or similar sorts of normative presuppositions but instead necessiates a simultaneous stress on a politics of need-interpretation and a politics for the satisfaction of needs whereby contradictions are followed up. Since such a politics will have to pursue contrary claims depending on the political conjuncture, it is important that the possibility to shift between various modes of problematizations is developed. The undifferentiated notion of rationality developed in the last chapter is supposed to allow for this.},
  author       = {Spång, Mikael},
  issn         = {0460-0037},
  keyword      = {communication,good,right,ethics,morality,social unfreedom,equality,freedom,democracy,social justice,capitalism,reformism,social democracy,Management of enterprises,Företagsledning,management},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {266},
  publisher    = {Department of Political Science, Lund University},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Lund political studies},
  title        = {Justice and Society: Problems of Reformist Politics},
  volume       = {111},
  year         = {1999},
}