n South African Journal on Human Rights - Redistribution and recognition : reconciling inequalities

Volume 23, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-7203



This paper examines the traditional dichotomy between measures addressing socio-economic inequalities and those aimed at inequality based on status, such as race, gender, disability or sexual orientation. using the conceptual framework of recognition and redistribution developed by Nancy Fraser and others, I argue that it is no longer tenable to keep the two spheres separate. Constructing a concept of socio-economic equality without considering the implications for status-based inequality can be damaging and ineffective. conversely, status-based measures are limited by their inability to mobilise the redistributive measures necessary to make real equality of opportunity and genuine choice possible. The paper begins by examining the interaction between socio-economic and status-based equality. I then sketch out a multi-dimensional notion of substantive equality which attempts to create a synthesis between the aims of both spheres. In the final part, I make some very tentative suggestions as to how the interpenetration can be more meaningfully captured in legal frameworks.

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