Arguments are explored concerning the need (or otherwise) of establishing an ideal just society and fair principles for distribution, along with differing theoretical approaches to those subjects, including perfecting institutions versus ‘social realisation’ and the case for ‘public reasoning’ (Sen 2010), Rawls’ (1973) ‘veil of ignorance’ and Walzer’s distributive spheres and case for complex equality. Approaches to understanding the social meaning of goods, their practical and symbolic roles, value and priority, are similarly discussed. An alternative paradigm based on ‘cultural recognition’ has been proposed by Fraser (1997) and other feminist authors, concerned with the construction and valuing of group as opposed to class) identities. Attitudes to difference assume importance as, it is argued, does the recognition of sameness. The meaning of cultural is explored, and a case made for recognition in a wider sense. Distributive and cultural recognition paradigms have generally been held to be separate, although various proposals have been made regarding their precedence and inter-relationship. The chapter concludes with the proposition that the inter-relationship can be conceived by deconstructing the components and stages of distributive processes and identifying where scope for misrecognition intervenes.
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