Substantive Equality Revisited

I•CON (2016), Vol. 14 No. 3, 712–73

doi:10.1093/icon/mow043

Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 70/2014

27 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2014

See all articles by Sandra Fredman

Sandra Fredman

University of Oxford Faculty of Law; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Date Written: October 15, 2014

Abstract

The limitations of a formal interpretation of the right to equality are now well recognized. However, the meaning of substantive equality remains deeply contested. This article argues that the right to substantive equality should not be collapsed into a single formula, such as dignity, or equality of opportunity or results. Instead, drawing on familiar conceptions, a four dimensional approach is proposed: to redress disadvantage; address stigma, stereotyping, prejudice, and violence; enhance voice and participation; and accommodate difference and achieve structural change. This reflects the principle that the right to equality should be responsive to those who are disadvantaged, demeaned, excluded, or ignored. The four-dimensional approach is deliberately framed in terms of dimensions, to permit us to focus on their interaction and synergies, rather than asserting a pre-established lexical priority. Drawing attention to all the dimensions and insisting on building complementarities can move us positively towards furthering substantive equality. Conflicts should be addressed by referring to the whole framework, to create a synthesis rather than prioritizing. It is thus not a definition, but an analytic framework to assess and assist in modifying laws, policies and practices to better achieve substantive equality.

Keywords: human rights, substantive equality

Suggested Citation

Fredman, Sandra, Substantive Equality Revisited (October 15, 2014). I•CON (2016), Vol. 14 No. 3, 712–73; doi:10.1093/icon/mow043; Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 70/2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2510287 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2510287

Sandra Fredman (Contact Author)

University of Oxford Faculty of Law ( email )

St. Cross Building
St. Cross Road
Oxford, OX1 3UJ
United Kingdom

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
779
rank
30,079
Abstract Views
2,570
PlumX Metrics