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  • A Question of Scale:Justice, Citizenship, and Gender
  • Judy Fudge (bio)
Scales of Justice: Reimaging Political Space in a Globalizing World Edited by Nancy Fraser (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009)
Gender Equality: Dimensions of Women's Equal Citizenship Edited by Linda C. McClain and Joanna L. Grossman (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009)

How to measure justice is a focus of both Nancy Fraser's monograph, Scales of Justice: Reimaging Political Space in a Globalizing World,1 and Linda C. McClain and Joanna L. Grossman's edited collection, Gender Equality: Dimensions of Women's Equal Citizenship.2 The covers of both books depict a scale or balance. Fraser's cover also shows a compass, as she is concerned with engaging the scale as social geographers use it: "[A] geographic metric for representing spatial relationships." Her goal is to make a conceptual link between the two images of the scales of justice. Fraser considers how we understand politics and governance in a political and economic context in which the Keynesian-Westphalian state is not the exclusive site of legitimacy and authority.3 This question troubles her because, as she explains, modern theories of justice assume the nation state as the pre-eminent space of politics. With the increased globalism of [End Page 267] the world, citizenship has been beset by theoretical and political conundrums. Fraser's book implicitly questions whether citizenship continues to be a useful lens from which to address questions of justice. In their collection, McClain and Grossman, in part in response to criticism the adequacy of citizenship as a frame for justice, develop a multi-dimensional approach to citizenship in order to measure gender inequality.

While both books explore the broad theme of justice and citizenship in a globalizing world (Fraser's term), their approaches and levels of analysis differ. Fraser's approach is more general. It is a work of normative political theory and critical social theory. The preoccupation of her elegant analysis is the heterogeneity of justice claims, with which she also describes the incommensurability of different idioms of justice, as well as the boundaries of justice in a globalizing world. The book distills arguments that Fraser has advanced over the past ten years, often in the New Left Review, and it provides a multi-dimensional approach (redistribution, recognition, and representation) to the question of justice. It offers a closely argued analysis of what is required for justice in "abnormal" times—times in which the conventional grammar of claims making has been profoundly disrupted.4 Although gender justice is not the specific focus of this book, Fraser uses the trajectory of the second-wave feminist movement in the United States as a case study to "deploy" the concepts she has developed to understand justice claims in the contemporary conjuncture.5

By contrast, McClain and Grossman focus specifically on gender equality, and they utilize the concept of citizenship because it is the common language for expressing aspirations to democratic and egalitarian ideals of inclusion, participation, and civic membership. They provide a very helpful introduction that identifies five dimensions of citizenship and justifies the use of this increasingly controversial term. The dimensions of justice provide the overarching themes around which the twenty wide-ranging chapters by researchers and scholars in law, political science, and women's studies who investigate facets of women's equal citizenship are organized. This book is both more specific and eclectic than Fraser's. It focuses on citizenship as the lens for evaluating whether women have achieved substantive equality and, as a whole, explores the constitutional, political, social, sexual and reproductive, and global dimensions of citizenship.

The goal of my brief review is not to provide a comprehensive assessment of the two books. Instead, I want to focus on how they join issue in order to evaluate their respective contributions to the question of gender equality in a globalizing world. To this end, I will briefly sketch Fraser's overall argument, highlighting several of the concepts she uses. I will then concentrate on her discussion of second-wave feminism as a bridge to my discussion of McClain and Grossman's collection. I will begin my discussion of their book by focusing on the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1911-0235
Print ISSN
0832-8781
Pages
pp. 267-276
Launched on MUSE
2010-11-20
Open Access
No
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