Gender, culture and the politics of identity in the public realm



Baumeister A (2009) Gender, culture and the politics of identity in the public realm. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 12 (2), pp. 259-277.

Although recent debates surrounding the relationship between commitments to gender equality and cultural justice have given a renewed impetus to feminist critiques of liberal conceptions of the public realm, prominent interventions by Martha Nussbaum and Monique Deveaux have continued to affirm one of two long-standing, yet controversial, feminist strategies for reconceptualising the public realm. While Nussbaum’s expansive notion of the public realm ultimately rests on a substantive conception of the good that cannot be readily reconciled with the aims of non-liberal feminist movements, Deveaux’s democracy approach struggles to define conditions for democratic participation that are substantive enough to safeguard the central goals of her feminist project and yet respect the diversity of women’s actual values and cultural attachments. These difficulties point towards the need for a more sophisticated understanding of the interaction between the capacity for agency in the wider social and personal sphere and effective citizenship in the public realm. Although a purely procedural account of democratic deliberation avoids the dangers of false universalism, it can only secure effective citizenship for women if some of the most serious structural inequalities that confront women are addressed. While such an approach falls well short of the demands associated with models such as Nussbaum’s expanded public realm, it none the less places significant limits on the scope of democratic deliberation.

gender equality; group rights; political liberalism; democratic deliberation; Nussbaum; Deveaux; Cultural diversity; Pluralism; Liberalism; Women’s rights; Deveaux, Monique; Minorities Civil rights; Nussbaum, Martha Craven, 1947-; Feminism

Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy: Volume 12, Issue 2

Publication date30/06/2009
PublisherTaylor & Francis (Routledge)

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Dr Andrea Baumeister
Dr Andrea Baumeister

Senior Lecturer, Politics