Love in the private: Axel Honneth, feminism and the politics of recognition

Contemporary Political Theory 9 (4):414-433 (2010)
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Axel Honneth distinguishes between recognitive practices according to the social domain in which they occur and this allows him to theorise the relationship between power and recognition. 'Love-based recognition', which suggests the centrality of recognition to the relationships that nurture us in the first instance, is located in the family. Honneth argues that relationships encompassed by this category are pre-political, thereby repeating the distinction between the public and the private common to much political theory. This article explores the structure of this delineation in his thinking. I argue that Honneth's analysis marginalises feminist concerns with how power functions through recognition in the private sphere. Honneth also robs himself of a rejoinder to recognition sceptics, who suggest that the desire for recognition is a condition of subordination. The article argues for an alternative approach to the analysis of 'love' within recognitive theory. © 2010 Macmillan Publishers Ltd



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