Institutions of justice and intuitions of fairness: contesting goods, rules and inequalities

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This paper examines the intrinsic relation between institutions and social justice. Its starting point is that processes of institutionalization invoke societal groups to articulate justice demands which, in their turn, give rise to processes of institutional redesign. In liberal democracies, demands for justice are articulated as a pursuit for emancipation and empowerment of groups that feel excluded by dominant categorizations. The imminent presence of this twin pursuit for justice can be explained by the conceptual inconsistencies that characterize the distinction between the public and private sphere. These inconsistencies also explain why demands for emancipation and empowerment are intrinsically ambiguous and inconsistent. In order to reconsider the question how institutions are to be adapted to allow for social justice while acknowledging the plurality, ambiguity and volatility of justice demands, the paper will propose an empirical and normative research agenda.


  • equality
  • fairness
  • institutions
  • Justice
  • public/private distinction

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