Race, power, history, and justice in America
Author(s)Lebron, Christopher J. (Christopher Joseph)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
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This project sets out two broad aims. First, I seek to explain the persistence of racial inequality in an era of formal racial inequality. I offer a theory of power, historically evolved socially embedded power. The theory states that racial inequality is to be explained in the first instance by the way historical racial norms become embedded in practices and processes of path dependent institutions, shaping the way institutions value persons of color. Subsequently, this impacts the way broader society values persons of color, and the way they value themselves. This sets up the conclusion that the problem of racial inequality is fundamentally a problem of racial valuation rather than a problem of distributive justice. In articulating the theory of power, I depart from orthodox analytic political thought methodology by relying on a cross-section of empirical resources, such as history, sociology, and social psychology. Second, I conclude from the above that a theory of justice appropriate for the needs of racial inequality must center on a normative ideal as its primary aim to counteract this more fundamental dynamic. Given the above characterization of racial inequality, I argue that self-respect is the necessary ideal and the social bases of self-respect are the appropriate currency of justice. By self-respect I mean, one's disposition towards oneself such that plans and perceived purposes are reflectively developed in line with an autonomously articulated morally appropriate conception of the good life.(cont.) By the social bases of self-respect I mean, the public commitment and efforts made by major social institutions to embrace and affirm persons of color as substantive equals in a way that reckons with both the history and contemporary reality of racial injustice. I formulate justice as democratic partnership as the appropriate conception of racial justice. It states that justice obtains when institutions consistently provide the social bases of self-respect as per a defined set of institutional principles, and persons of color utilize this resource, as per a defined set of personal principles, by conceiving and pursuing the good of their lives just as the more socially and politically advantaged are able to.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, 2009.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology