n South African Journal on Human Rights - Equality, plurality and structural power

Volume 25, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-7203



This article deals with the paradox that, in order to remedy discrimination and redress disadvantage, we have to invoke broad social categories and identities which are themselves implicated in relations of inequality and subordination. This paradox is explored from three different angles. First, the article argues for a complex understanding of equality. In terms of this understanding, the right to equality is underpinned by at least three interdependent, yet constantly shifting values, namely dignity, equality and democracy. Secondly, a radical understanding of difference is advocated, which seeks to destabilise the symbolic oppositions and hierarchies that underlie inequality and exclusion, and which avoids the uncritical equation of difference with supposedly self-contained individual and collective identities. Thirdly, the article echoes calls for a memorial understanding of constitutionalism which resists the monumentalisation of past struggles and is concerned with the limits of the law in detecting and responding to disadvantage. It is argued that these three perspectives, taken together, enable a transformative discourse on equality, which remains open to the capacity of disadvantage and difference to resist the closureinto which law inevitably lapses.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error