The Politics of the Personal: A Liberal Approach

American Political Science Review, Vol. 101, No. 1, pp. 19-31, February 2007

13 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2011  

Corey L. Brettschneider

Brown University - Department of Political Science; Fordham University School of Law

Date Written: February 1, 2007

Abstract

Feminist thinkers have long criticized liberal theory’s public/private distinction for perpetuating indifference to injustices within the family. Thinkers such as Susan Okin have extended this criticism in evaluating the theory of political liberalism, suggesting that this theory’s reliance on a public conception of citizenship renders it indifferent to the way in which the internal politics of the family can undermine equality. However, I argue in this article that the feminist concern to ensure equality within the domestic sphere can in fact be incorporated into a reconstructed account of political liberalism. Central to my strong public reconstruction is the principle of publicly justifiable privacy, according to which the public/private distinction itself must be formulated with reference to the values of free and equal citizenship. On my account, the public values of citizenship should figure prominently in evaluations of family life. This reformulation of the public/private distinction answers feminist critics who suggest that political liberalism fails to offer a politics of the personal.

Keywords: Feminism, Liberalism, Okin, Rawls, Public/Private Distinction

Suggested Citation

Brettschneider, Corey L., The Politics of the Personal: A Liberal Approach (February 1, 2007). American Political Science Review, Vol. 101, No. 1, pp. 19-31, February 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1746389

Corey Brettschneider (Contact Author)

Brown University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 1844
Providence, RI 02912
United States

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States

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