Autonomy and Diversity
Johanne Poirier, "Autonomy and Diversity" in Ron Watts and Rupak Chattopadhyay, eds, Building on and Accomodating Diversities (New Delhi: Viva Books, 2008) 37
9 Pages Posted: 21 May 2016
Date Written: January 1, 2008
While closely related to collective rights, autonomy in a diverse society is about empowerment. It relates to the capacity to adopt one’s own (“auto”) norms or laws (“nomos”). This paper offers a brief reflection on the meaning of autonomy and on the groups which may legitimately and realistically claim forms of institutional autonomy. It then explores how the concept of “autonomy” can be translated into various forms of institutional design in contemporary states “blessed” with the asset of diversity. Advantages and disadvantages of various options are canvassed. The importance of trust-building mechanisms is also emphasised as a counter-balance for the segmentation which can result from otherwise legitimate schemes meant to promote the autonomy of certain culturally distinct groups.
Keywords: autonomy, diversity, empowerment, collective rights, institutional design
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