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The Vulnerable Subject: Anchoring Equality in the Human Condition

Martha Albertson Fineman

Emory University School of Law

Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2008
Emory Public Law Research Paper No. 8-40

This essay develops the concept of vulnerability in order to argue for a more responsive state and a more egalitarian society. Vulnerability is and should be understood to be universal and constant, inherent in the human condition. The vulnerability approach is an alternative to traditional equal protection analysis; it represents a post-identity inquiry in that it is not focused only on discrimination against defined groups, but concerned with privilege and favor conferred on limited segments of the population by the state and broader society through their institutions. As such, vulnerability analysis concentrates on the institutions and structures our society has and will establish to manage our common vulnerabilities. This approach has the potential to move us beyond the stifling confines of current discrimination-based models toward a more substantive vision of equality.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 23

Keywords: equality, constitutional law, critical theory, feminism, gender, race, class, disability, social contract theory, jurisprudence, human capacities, law and society

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Date posted: May 10, 2008 ; Last revised: June 19, 2012

Suggested Citation

Fineman, Martha Albertson, The Vulnerable Subject: Anchoring Equality in the Human Condition. Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2008; Emory Public Law Research Paper No. 8-40. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1131407

Contact Information

Martha Albertson Fineman (Contact Author)
Emory University School of Law ( email )
1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States
404-712-2421 (Phone)

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