Rethinking equality

International Social Science Journal (Chinese Edition)

No.4, 2019


Rethinking equality (Abstract)


George Shulman


This essay criticises the limitations of the idea of formal equality in the liberal (and French republican) traditions by drawing on Karl Marx, Alexis de Tocqueville, and contemporary feminist and critical-race theories. These suggest that any credible theory of equality must begin in fact with inequality in its many dimensions, but it also must theorise how countervailing power is developed by political action, or what Tocqueville calls association, taken as a verb and not only as a noun. By an unconventional and radicalised reading of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, this essay offers an agonistic theory of the relationship between equality and democracy to escape the limitations imposed by the framework of individual and formal rights.