Affective Equality: Love, Care and Injustice by Kathleen Lynch, John Baker, Maureen Lyons

By Kathleen Lynch, John Baker, Maureen Lyons

This groundbreaking book offers a brand new point of view on equality by way of highlighting and exploring affective equality, the point of equality desirous about relationships of affection, care and harmony. Drawing on reviews of intimate worrying, or love labouring, it unearths the intensity, complexity and multidimensionality of affective inequality.

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Sample text

In liberal legal systems, the values contained in that language have been identified as liberty and autonomy. These are values of sharply defined commitment, not of open-ended obligation; of free choice, not of family duty; of contract not of trusting relationship. She maintains that women’s concern for others and for continuity and connection is an alternative model of justice. The idea that women have a ‘different voice’ (Gilligan, 1982) has played an important but controversial role in the debate over the importance of legal rights in promoting equality.

Feminist theorists have not just critiqued a host of laws that impact upon the affective, but have probed the role of the legal system in generating and sustaining affective inequalities. Such scholarship has tended to focus on the consequences of unpaid caregiving for (female) care providers (Fineman, 2004), prompted by a concern that such labour is a site of gender inequality that has not been tackled by the major law reform efforts of the past few decades. More generally, a body of legal writing, such as that concerning children and sexual minorities, has begun to engage with the conditions of access to relationships of love, care and solidarity.

A slightly weaker, third position leading to a similar conclusion is to argue that even if there is a small number of people who genuinely do not need or at least do not want any love or care in their lives, this is no different from any of Rawls’s other primary goods, since there are also people who do not want certain basic liberties or more than a minimal amount of income. On this view, it is enough for egalitarian theories of justice to focus on goods that nearly everyone needs. Strict neutrality among all conceptions of wellbeing is simply too strong a requirement.

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