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Justice and the Politics of Difference Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (September 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691152624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691152622
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 1991 Victoria Schuck Award, American Political Science Association

"Young has written an extremely important book, articulating a position which challenges theorists of justice from Plato to Rawls."--Andrew Murphy, Journal of Politics

"This is a superb book which opens up many new vistas for theorists of justice. Young makes a number of insightful arguments both about the issues that need to be addressed by a theory of justice, and about the kind of theory capable of addressing them."--Will Kymlicka, Canadian Philosophical Reviews

"With remarkable precision and clarity, Young constructs a 'pluralized' account of oppression, aiming to describe all the groups and all the ways they are oppressed."--

From the Back Cover

"This is an innovative work, an important contribution to feminist theory and political thought, and one of the most impressive statements of the relationship between postmodernist critiques of universalism and concrete thinking.... Iris Young makes the most convincing case I know of for the emancipatory implications of postmodernism."--Seyla Benhabib, Yale University

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Dale on December 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Young's clasic book is most often read in seminars on social criticism and/or feminist studies. This is as it should be, for Young's work brilliantly illuminates the direction debates about justice and oppressed groups must go. However, I read the book from the point of view of the work of Warnke, Habermas, and Gadamer, more along the lines of hermeneutics and ideology critique. What I found was an absolutely riviting account of how we define the groups to which we belong, how we believe those groups interact with each other, and the way that the competing demands of these groups are met and dealt with. As Warnke does, Young realigns the concept of justice along a communitarian axis rather than an individualistic axis, proposing that we look at justice in terms of communitites than individuals. Only in this way will the individuals within those communities be able to come to the table with their respective concerns. Like Habermas, she investigates the rhetoric of power that underlies old ways of discussing justice in terms of distribution, denying that justice is a finite commodity that must be rationed. And like Gadamer, Young stresses the need for an understanding of presuppositions in developing theories of history and interpretation. After all, how we define "our" group in great part determines how we define "others".
I found her turn from a rural to an urban paradigm of community to be nothing short of revolutionary. She develops an idea of community-oriented justice that revolves not around the model of self-suffient hamlets, but around the interlocking and often messy communities that exist side-by-side (though often in isolation from each other) in cities.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Fischman on August 20, 1997
Format: Paperback
Iris Young makes us think about justice not as a set of debts we owe other individuals but as a set of relations between social groups. In a just society, no group is oppressed. Her chapter "Five Faces of Oppression" is a classic. She brings new insights to debates about welfare, affirmative action, and disability. This book also offers a thought-provoking discussion of community. Young argues that we have based our idea of community on the rural life of an earlier age and that city life is where we should look for ideas about how community thrives in diversity.

Young tries to write for a general audience as well as for scholars. Sometimes, she succeeds, although the parts of the book that address particular groups and their predicaments or particular social policies are more accessible than the parts in which she critiques other theories. I would recommend this book for second-year students in college and up. It marks a turning point in social and political thought.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By F.V.M. on May 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Ignore the silly reviews (here on Amazon) that attempt to pigeon-hole this work as somehow relevant ONLY if one believes the principles of radical feminism. Yes, Young is a feminist. But this book is about much, much more than that. It asks a question that has long needed answering: Do classical conceptions of justice (i.e. distributive justice) adequately account for the diverse experiences of differently situated actors? And if not, how are some groups and individuals marginalized by the dominant philosophical conceptions of justice which have become part of the background understanding of Western civilization? It is Young's wonderful journey seeking an answer to this question that we find in "Justice and the Politics of Difference," and the journey is worth taking with her.
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