Diversity Politics and the Politics of Difference

de Jong, Sara (2014). Diversity Politics and the Politics of Difference. In: Vieten, Ulrike M. ed. Revisiting Iris Marion Young on Normalisation, Inclusion and Democracy. Palgrave, pp. 87–105.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137440976_6


This chapter employs Iris Marion Young’s framework of two types of politics of difference — the structural inequality model and the societal cultural model — to unpack and analyse the ‘difference’ that is articulated in diversity politics. Application of Young’s framework uncovers the tendency to a static understanding of culture, with limited reference to the structural processes underlying social group formation and inadequate attention to intersections with other categories. In order to account for the shift of diversity politics to difference as a ‘resource’, Young’s work needs to be placed in relation to ‘difference-conscious neo-liberalism’ rather than a ‘difference-blind liberalism’. Insights from studies on colonial cultural brokers can help demonstrate continuities in ‘domesticating’ difference for political and commercial ends, and show the continued relevance of Young’s account of normalising processes.

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