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An egalitarian case for class-specific political institutions

Harting, Vincent ORCID: 0000-0003-4821-8351 (2023) An egalitarian case for class-specific political institutions. Political Theory, 51 (5). 843 - 868. ISSN 0090-5917

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Identification Number: 10.1177/00905917231178288


Political theorists concerned with ways to counteract the oligarchic tendencies of representative government have recently paid more attention to the employment of “class-specific institutions” (CSIs)—that is, political institutions that formally exclude wealthy elites from decision-making power. This article disputes a general objection levelled against the justifiability of CSIs, according to which their democratic credentials are outweighed by their explicit transgression of formal political equality—what I call the political equality objection. I claim that, although CSIs do not satisfy political equality fully, their exclusionary thrust is inter alia justified in virtue of the fact that they unfold against the background of badly ordered, class-divided societies. Parallel to recent arguments in nonideal theory arguing for the priority of the right to resist economic oppression over the protection of private property rights, access to the empowering properties of CSIs should take priority over the full satisfaction of formal political equality. Yet, I also claim that the justification of CSIs depends on their orientation toward overcoming class divisions because, otherwise, we might end up wrongly naturalizing those divisions—a conclusion that needs to be avoided to reply to the political equality objection. The result is, I believe, a convincing egalitarian case for the democratic justifiability of CSIs.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author
Divisions: Government
Subjects: J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Date Deposited: 12 May 2023 13:24
Last Modified: 19 May 2024 04:33

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