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Cultural skepticism and 'group representation'

Phillips, Anne (2011) Cultural skepticism and 'group representation'. In: Mahajan, Gurpreet, (ed.) Accommodating Diversity: Ideas and Institutional Practices. OUP India, New Delhi, India, pp. 60-73. ISBN 9780198075035

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Arguments for group representation have commonly faced three objections: (1) that representing people via their membership of a group promotes sectionalism, parochialism, and the pursuit of vested interests; (2) that it raises impossible questions about which groups qualify for group representation; (3) that it falsely presumes the existence of a group with sufficiently shared interests, perspectives, values, or concerns for some of those group members fairly to represent the others. I have some sympathy with each objection, but am also convinced that group based inequalities cannot be adequately addressed by practices that treat people solely in their capacity as individuals. When the (legitimate) worries about group representation are taken as a basis for refusing any claim for group-based measures, they return us to an agenda of exclusively individual representation. This leaves untouched the systemic inequalities that continue to undermine fair representation. The challenge is to formulate genuinely transformative policies that begin to break cycles of disadvantage and exclusion, but to approach these in ways that recognise and engage with the legitimate concerns. I do not pretend that I achieve this in this essay, but hope at least to clarify the issues to be borne in mind.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2011 OUP India
Divisions: Gender Studies
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Sets: Departments > Gender Institute
Departments > Government
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2015 10:45
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2020 23:25

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