Scales of Justice

Scales of Justice: Reimagining Political Space in a Globalizing World

Nancy Fraser
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Scales of Justice
    Book Description:

    Until recently, struggles for justice proceeded against the background of a taken-for-granted frame: the bounded territorial state. With that "Westphalian" picture of political space assumed by default, the scope of justice was rarely subject to open dispute. Today, however, human-rights activists and international feminists join critics of structural adjustment and the World Trade Organization in challenging the view that justice can only be a domestic relation among fellow citizens. Targeting injustices that cut across borders, they are making the scale of justice an object of explicit struggle.

    Inspired by these efforts, Nancy Fraser asks: What is the proper frame for theorizing justice? Faced with a plurality of competing scales, how do we know which one is truly just? In exploring these questions, Fraser revises her widely discussed theory of redistribution and recognition. She introduces a third, "political" dimension of justice-representation-and elaborates a new, reflexive type of critical theory that foregrounds injustices of "misframing." Engaging with thinkers such as Jürgen Habermas, John Rawls, Michel Foucault, and Hannah Arendt, she envisions a "postwestphalian" mapping of political space that accommodates transnational solidarity, transborder publicity, and democratic frame-setting, as well as emancipatory projects that cross borders. The result is a sustained reflection on who should count with respect to what in a globalizing world.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51962-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. 1 Scales of Justice, the Balance and the Map An Introduction
    (pp. 1-11)

    My title, Scales of Justice, evokes two images. The first one is very familiar, almost a cliché: the moral balance in which an impartial judge weighs the relative merits of conflicting claims. Long central to the understanding of justice, this image still inspires struggles for social justice in the present era, notwithstanding widespread skepticism concerning the very idea of an impartial judge. The second image is less familiar: the geographer’s metric for representing spatial relationships. Only recently salient in justice theorizing, this image is now informing struggles over globalization, as transnational social movements contest the national frame within which justice...

  5. 2 Reframing Justice in a Globalizing World
    (pp. 12-29)

    Globalization is changing the way we argue about justice. Not so long ago, in the heyday of social democracy, disputes about justice presumed what I shall call a “Keynesian-Westphalian frame.” Typically played out within modern territorial states, arguments about justice were assumed to concern relations among fellow citizens, to be subject to debate within national publics, and to contemplate redress by national states. This was true for each of two major families of justice claims – claims for socioeconomic redistribution and claims for legal or cultural recognition. At a time when the Bretton Woods system of international capital controls facilitated...

  6. 3 Two Dogmas of Egalitarianism
    (pp. 30-47)

    Until recently, struggles for justice proceeded against the background of a taken-for-granted frame: the modern territorial state. With that frame assumed by default, the scope of justice was rarely subject to explicit dispute in the post-World War II period. Whether the issue was socioeconomic distribution or legal-cultural recognition or political representation, it generally went without saying that the unit within which justice applied was a geographically bounded political community with a sovereign state. With that “Westphalian” assumption in place, another one followed in train: the subjects bound by obligations of justice were, by definition, fellow citizens of a territorial state....

  7. 4 Abnormal Justice
    (pp. 48-75)

    In some contexts, public debates about justice assume the guise of normal discourse. However fiercely they disagree about what exactly justice requires in a given case, the contestants share some underlying presuppositions about what an intelligible justice claim looks like. These include ontological assumptions about the kind(s) of actors who are entitled to make such claims (usually, individuals) and about the kind of agency from which they should seek redress (typically, a territorial state). Also shared are assumptions about scope, which fix the circle of interlocutors to whom claims for justice should be addressed (usually, the citizenry of a bounded...

  8. 5 Transnationalizing the Public Sphere: On the Legitimacy and Efficacy of Public Opinion in a Postwestphalian World
    (pp. 76-99)

    It is commonplace nowadays to speak of “transnational public spheres,” “diasporic public spheres,” “Islamic public spheres,” and even an emerging “global public sphere.” And such talk has a clear point. A growing body of media studies literature is documenting the existence of discursive arenas that overflow the bounds of both nations and states. Numerous scholars in cultural studies are ingeniously mapping the contours of such arenas and the flows of images and signs in and through them.¹ The idea of a “transnational public sphere” is intuitively plausible, then, and seems to have purchase on social reality.

    Nevertheless, this idea raises...

  9. 6 Mapping the Feminist Imagination: From Redistribution to Recognition to Representation
    (pp. 100-115)

    For many years, feminists throughout the world looked to the United States for the most advanced theory and practice. Today, however, US feminism finds itself at an impasse, stymied by the hostile, post-9/11 political climate. Unsure how to pursue gender justice under current conditions, we are now returning the favor, by looking to feminists elsewhere for inspiration and guidance. Today, accordingly, the cutting edge of gender struggle has shifted away from the United States, to transnational spaces, such as “Europe” and the World Social Forum, where the room for maneuver appears greater. The consequence is a major shift in the...

  10. 7 From Discipline to Flexibilization? Rereading Foucault in the Shadow of Globalization
    (pp. 116-130)

    Michel Foucault was the great theorist of the fordist mode of social regulation. Writing at the zenith of the postwar Keynesian welfare state, he taught us to see the dark underside of even its most vaunted achievements. Viewed through his eyes, social services became disciplinary apparatuses, humanist reforms became panoptical surveillance regimes, public health measures became deployments of biopower, and therapeutic practices became vehicles of subjection. From his perspective, the components of the postwar social state constituted a carceral archipelago of disciplinary domination, all the more insidious because self-imposed.

    Granted, Foucault did not himself understand his project as an anatomy...

  11. 8 Threats to Humanity in Globalization: Arendtian Reflections on the Twenty-First Century
    (pp. 131-141)

    Hannah Arendt was the great theorist of mid-twentieth-century catastrophe. Writing in the aftermath of the Nazi holocaust, she taught us to conceptualize what was at stake in this darkest of historical moments. Seen through her eyes, the extermination camps represented the most radical negation of the quintessentially human capacity for spontaneity and the distinctively human condition of plurality. Thus for Arendt they had a revelatory quality. By taking to the limit the project of rendering superfluous the human being as such, the Nazi regime crystallized in the sharpest and most extreme way humanity-threatening currents that characterized the epoch more broadly....

  12. 9 The Politics of Framing: An Interview with Nancy Fraser
    (pp. 142-159)
    Kate Nash and Vikki Bell

    Vikki Bell: In your current work, would you say that what you’re attempting to do is to describe something that’s already happening? Or are you trying to lend some support to something that’s emergent, or do you see yourself more as trying to bring about change through your work? In my mind, this is the same question as, “What is the role of the (political) theorist?”

    Nancy Fraser: The short answer is: all of the above. And I agree that what underlies your question is one’s conception of the role of the critical theorist. So everything depends on figuring out...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 160-196)
  14. References
    (pp. 197-215)
  15. Index
    (pp. 216-224)