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Susan Moller Okin on Income - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 234
Income/family/politics/feminism/Okin/Lamont: the feminist field has been unprecedented in its diversity, yet remarkably a common theme has emerged, usually expressed under the motto 'the personal is political'. These feminists argue that liberal theories of distributive justice are unable to address oppression which surfaces in the so-called private sphere of government non-interference. There are many versions of this criticism, but perhaps the best developed is Susan Moller Okin's (1989: 128—30), which documents the effects of the institution of the nuclear family. She argues that the consequence of this institution is a position of systematic material and political inequality for women.
Okin demonstrates, for example, that women have substantial disadvantages competing in the market because of childrearing responsibilities which are not equally shared with men. As a consequence, any
Gaus I 235
theory relying on market mechanisms, including most liberal theories, will yield systems which
result in women systematically having less income and wealth than men.
FiminismVsLiberalism: the theoretical trouble for liberalism is that in its respect for individual liberty, and in its insistence on government neutrality, it cannot even recognize the inequalities in the economic or political positions of women as unjust, since these inequalities result from the combined effect of many individual choices (Hampton, 1997(2): 200—8; MacKinnon, 1987(3): 36).


1. Okin, Susan Moller (1989) Justice, Gender, and the Family. New York: Harper Collins.
2. Hampton, Jean (1997) Political Philosophy. Oxford: Westview.
3. MacKinnon, Catherine A. (1987) Feminism Unmodified: Discourses of Life and Law. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lamont, Julian 2004. „Distributive Justice“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Okin, Susan Moller
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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