In praise of exclusion

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26 Scopus citations


Most theoretical accounts of descriptive representation focus almost exclusively on the question, Why do certain groups need to be brought into democratic institutions? They emphasize the democratic gains obtained through adding more voices to the political arena. However, in order to improve the representation of historically disadvantaged groups, democratic theorists need to consider when it is justifiable, desirable, and even morally necessary to limit, or even deny, access and influence to overrepresented, privileged groups. Democratic citizens need an ethics of marginalizationthat is, ethical standards for evaluating how democracies can and should use informal norms to limit the power and influence of certain citizens within the framework of an equal regime of formal rights. The author proposes one standard, the oppression principle, for evaluating how democratic citizens marginalize: democracies should marginalize those who oppress and those whose privileged status sustains oppression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1172-1186
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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