When injustice can be
traced back to the middle of this spectrum of differences (which is the case
with most problems), a solution that is inclusive of both redistribution and
recognition is quintessential, which is the two-pronged approach put forward by
Nancy Fraser. These injustices do not arise because of each other, they are
co-fundamental but not reducible to each other. A perfect example of this ‘middle
of the spectrum’ injustice is gender injustice. It needs to be solved by both
the economic structure and status order of the society. In fact, what I think is
any dimension be it sexuality, race, gender or even class for that matter has
both the components of social status and economic structuring associated to it,
just the weightage of these components vary. For example, class probably arises
due to the maldistribution of resources but later, the by-products of this
maldistribution are lack of respect from the society, loss of rights i.e.
misrecognition. Just that the economic structure weighs in more compared to the
cultural component. Thus, we can arrive at the conclusion that these two paradigms
are not mutually separated but co-fundamental.

‘           Consider the increasing instances of
recognition struggles in today’s time period. These conflicts drive the social
movements of today’s world, everything ranging from cultural inclusion, human
rights, autonomy for institutions to gender struggles and also over sexuality. Thus,
the politics of ‘status’ has been going through a period of renaissance. Whereas,
consider the slowly decreasing instances the class politics. The political
leaders today focus their propaganda on recognition related issues and not
redistribution related. There is a slow demise of advocates crying for
equitable redistribution of wealth and resources from the rich to the poor. Thus,
it can be said that the whole political sphere is going through a period of
renaissance where the focus has gradually shifted from redistribution to
recognition. I think much of this paradigm shift is to be attributed to the
increased globalisation that has been encompassing the world. The globalisation
has led to people feeling highly conscious about the culture differences. This
is because globalisation has increased proximity and that makes society conscious
of the diversity of the ‘other person’. Thus, as we can see the world is moving
away from what we have been arguing so far. If in the Fordist era, the focus
was on redistribution; in the contemporary society, its about recognition. The two
concepts, which Fraser has been talking about integrating are falling apart
again.

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            On the other hand, I think there are serious problems
associated with growing recognition struggles and the demise of redistribution.
This shift is occurring in spite of the increasing economic inequality. Capitalism
across the globe is reaching new heights thanks to globalisation. These
recognition struggles are overshadowing the economic redistribution struggles. Rather
than complementing the redistribution struggle, the focus is being pulled away
from it. In fact, another problem that is arising is too much flourishing of ‘differences’
due to may be, too much encouragement of ‘difference’ struggles. It is becoming
a threat to itself. There has to be an integrated solution encompassing both
these struggles to achieve social justice for all.

I
tend to agree more with Fraser rather than Honneth and hence, here I give only
a brief overview of his views as ‘redistribution as recognition’.

Alex
Honneth:

Honneth argues that
recognition is not just about cultural differences, instead it is inclusive of
economic injustices as well. Continuing from the Hegelian philosophy about
recognition that treating other fellow beings as equal is a necessary ‘virtue’
for self-recognition and identity-development. When some individuals feel that
this recognition is not being reciprocated towards them by the other members of
the society, a feeling of being ill-treated emerges. This gives rise to the
concept of ‘cultural subordination’. This results in the struggles for demand
of reciprocity of recognition. Honneth talks about ‘the three spheres of
recognition’ – love, equality and achievement. He brings out that there are two
perspectives to distributive struggles – struggles over the spheres of equality
and achievement, or struggles due to the misinterpretation of the achievement
sphere. The example of the first kind is the gradual establishment of social
rights. The sphere of equality is being accommodated into the sphere of
achievement. The ill-treated social groups pushed the equality principle to get
the minimum standards of living irrespective of their achievements. An example
of the second kind is the feminist movements for equality across genders. He
mentions an instance of where nurses had argued for higher pay-rolls citing
that their contributions haven’t been properly valued. This is a classic misinterpretation
of achievement. This is also an instance of economic injustice. Thus, Honneth
tries to prove the point that a struggle for redistribution can also be
interpreted as a recognition problem.