'Othering' and the Law
39 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2008 Last revised: 30 Jan 2010
Date Written: December 31, 2009
The premise of this Article is that an underlying attitude of “othering” pervades current discussions about what the law should and should not do to address the conditions and needs of various categories of persons. Although we do not necessarily acknowledge it, the fact that our discussions proceed from a view of the people whose situations or problems being discussed as “other” makes a difference to how we evaluate various public policy initiatives.
The Article is not an effort to engage in a detailed discussion or resolution of any particular question of law and public policy. Instead its focus is the attitude of othering – where it proceeds from, how religion, law and culture promote it, and how the law might help move us beyond it. It begins by articulating a view of the human person and human relations derived from Catholic social thought, a view that is very much at odds with othering and that I argue should be the foundation of our legal system. It then discusses both the prevalence of othering and the forces that promote it, including religion, culture and the law. After talking about how othering infect public policy debates, the Article addresses the question of how the law might move us from an attitude of othering to the vision drawn from Catholic social thought.
Keywords: law and society, othering, other
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation