Synthesis Philosophica 32 (1):121-137 (2017)

Marita Brčić Kuljiš
University of Split
Iris Marion Young accepts the concepts of the private and the public, but denies the social division between public and private spheres, each with different kinds of institutions, activities, and human attributes. Young defines “private” as that aspect of a person’s life and activity that he or she has a right to exclude others from. The private in this sense is not what public institutions exclude, but what the individual chooses to withdraw from public view. According to Young the public in a democratic society is heterogeneous. “Indeed, in open and accessible public spaces and forums, they should expect to encounter and hear from those who are different, whose social perspectives, experience, and affiliations are different.” An important characteristic of a developed democratic society is a developed civil society. Civil society is voluntary associational life that is distinguished from the state and economy, and helps with the transfer of private problems to the public agenda. They are voluntary, in the sense that they are neither mandated nor run by state institutions, but spring from the everyday lives and activities of the communities of interest. Distinguishing voluntary associational life from economy as well as state helps refine the role of civil society in promoting social justice.
Keywords Iris Marion Young, civil society, democracy, private, public sphere, justice, voluntarism
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DOI 10.21464/sp32109
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