University of Melbourne Hegel Summer School 2005

Social Justice & Cultural Recognition

Friday 18th February 2005
9am-5pm University of Melbourne

Andy Blunden, Julie Connolly and Geoff Boucher

In recent decades, struggles for cultural recognition have failed to address many of the longstanding generators of injustice. Poverty and exclusion is more widespread than ever. This seminar explores the problematics of struggles for recognition from three different angles.

9:30am: Subjectivity, Recognition and Objectification, Andy Blunden

Among the greatest barriers to social justice today are the very institutions which owe their existence to past struggles for social justice, which along with corporate capitalism, have contributed to the terminal fragmentation of society.

Andy will use Hegel’s concepts of Subjectivity, recognition and objectification to re-cast the problems of social justice today in an historical context, highlighting the way in which social movements have been demobilised by the institutions of modernity and propose a way forward.

11:30am: Axel Honneth on shame, social recognition and political action, Julie Connolly

Axel Honneth argues that social recognition is related to personal integrity. For this reason it is a deeply ethical activity. He also argues that social recognition is a political process. This is because misrecognition can catalyse political discontent and social action. In other words shame is a resource for politics.

In this talk Julie will discuss Honneth’s analysis of recognition, and examine both the ethics and the politics of social recognition. Julie argues that Honneth’s approach could be supplemented by an analysis of the public sphere of political debate and an ethics of the self. Only with these additions could Honneth grapple with the interplay of shame and power.

1:45pm: From Desire for Recognition to Politics of Resistance, Geoff Boucher

Geoff reconceptualises the struggle for recognition from within a materialist theory of social action that is informed by the insights of psychoanalysis. Axel Honneth has reunited fragmented sectoral struggles in a single generative mechanism via the moral dimension of political resistance. Nonetheless, he has failed to justify his leap from personal identity to social justice. He has transposed a moral psychology onto a theory of social justice, dealing with institutions rather than individuals.

In this talk Geoff explores the connection between the economic, political and the cultural spheres of social struggle, and the dialectical connection between the formation of personal identity and political resistance.

3:30pm: Panel Discussion

Entry is open to all: $20/$10 to pay in advance, includes refreshments.
Credit cards accepted by email or phone.

Register with Andy Blunden on (03) 9380 9435 or by email

Additional reading material will be forwarded to you electronically when you register.

Background reading material:

Independence and Dependence of Self-Consciousness, Hegel, 1807
Crime and Ethical Life, Axel Honneth, 1992
Classes and Classifications, Pierre Bourdieu, 1979
Love, Rights and Solidarity, Axel Honneth, 1995
From Redistribution to Recognition? Justice in a “Postsocialist” Age, Nancy Fraser, 1997
Solidarity, Recognition, Subjectivity and Mediation, Andy Blunden, 2004
Contemporary Struggles for Cultural Recognition, Geoff Boucher, 2004
Social Equality, Recognition and Preconditions of the Good Life, Arto Laitinen, 2003