The Cultural Turn in the Conceptualization and Research of Social Inequalities: From Distribution to Recognition

Jadwiga Šanderová


Th is article concentrates on critical responses to the so-called cultural turn in the conceptualization and research of social inequalities, in which we can, inter alia, discern a shift of interest from the problem of distribution to the problem of recognition. In this context, the dispute about the justice of distribution and recognition, led by Fraser and Honneth, is discussed. From the sociological point of view Fraser put forward an analogy of an unsuccessful Lenski’s attempt at synthesis of consensualist and confl ictualist accounts of social order, whereas Honneth’s conception resonated with the consensualist account of order, characterized by explicit emphasis on norms and normative consensus. Th e author of this article suggests that the resolution of this dispute about justice (or inequality) may be indicated in Lockwood’s conception of the incongruence of the status and class order, which is, as is argued, closer to Honneth’s
approach to the problem. Lockwood’s conception is extended here and employed in the argument, in which the author demonstrates that behind the increasing number of the so-called “inadaptable” individuals within the societies of the EuroAmerican cultural area, which is endangering the integration of society, we can trace the attempt of the majority to sustain its privileged position through narrowing the defi nition of performance applicable at the labour market. Th e author thus, following Honneth’s argument, comes  to the conclusion that the threat to the integrity of contemporary society is to be thought of in terms of recognition and regards the cultural turn in the research of social inequalities in this context as valuable.

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TEORIE VĚDY / THEORY OF SCIENCE – journal for interdisciplinary studies of science is published twice a year by the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Centre for Science, Technology, and Society Studies). ISSN 1210-0250 (Print) ISSN 1804-6347 (Online) MK ČR E 18677 web: /// email: