Lady liberty's allure: Political agency, citizenship and the second sex

Philosophy and Social Criticism 26 (1):1-24 (2000)
Conceiving political agency in terms of an interaction between the categories that Simone de Beauvoir called 'immanence' and 'transcendence' illuminates the role that attachments and desires play in supporting commitments to abstract principles of political right, and so clarifies the structure and sources of political agency. Communitarians and feminist theorists have shown in recent years that attachments to particular others can support a strong sense of individual efficacy. This analysis goes beyond those prior studies by showing the importance for political agency of partial attachments not to particular others but to abstract principles such as justice, liberty and equality. Motivating principled political action is a fundamental concern for constitutional liberal democracies such as the USA, in which citizens are to rule themselves on the basis of a constitutionally established set of abstract principles, rather than simply on the basis of attachments to particular persons or communities. Key Words: citizenship • gender • justice • political agency • Simone de Beauvoir.
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DOI 10.1177/019145370002600102
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