The Recognition/Redistribution Debate and Bourdieu's Theory of Practice

Theory, Culture and Society 26 (1):144-156 (2009)
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This review article takes up certain key issues that are at stake in the valuable collection of essays edited by Lovell. It considers critically the argument that the adoption of Fraser's perspectival dualism implies regression to a base—superstructure theory of the social. It assesses the advantages of extending the dualism of redistribution and recognition to include also the need for participatory parity in the post-Westphalian political order. It raises again the question of whether Honneth is sociologically more forceful than Fraser in arguing that material inequality is merely a facet of a more profound disrespect (lack of recognition). Lovell's assessment of Honneth's `recognition monism' is commended in that it resurrects an earlier critique of structural-functionalism to make a helpful distinction between social integration and (non-normative) system integration. She addresses these issues in terms of a wider critical realism concerned with disaggregating those social relations which are more causally generative from others: an approach which permits illuminating debates over the degree to which patriarchy and heteronormativity are contingent or necessary to late capitalism. Lovell also introduces Bourdieu into the debate, and especially his conceptions of misrecognition and symbolic violence. Finally, Sayer's vigorous arguments about the moral significance of distribution and class are considered as contributing to the current ethical turn. The article ends with an attempt to defend Bourdieu, whom Sayer sees both as a profound sociologist of class but also a theorist oriented too exclusively to agents' egoistic search for strategic advantage. The author concludes that although Fraser's perspectival trinity (or dualism) approach seems preferable to Honneth's monism, this should not obscure the empirical interweaving of deficiencies of distribution and of recognition in social reality. Indeed, new studies show the far-reaching consequences of this. In those societies where maldistribution is most marked, exposure to certain psychosocial risks such as low status (recognition) and low social capital literally incorporate stress, via biological pathways. Hence unequal health outcomes of a surprising range can also be detected.



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The Impact of Inequality.Richard Wilkinson - 2006 - Social Research: An International Quarterly 73:711-732.

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