Collective Identity, Oppression, and the Right to Self-Ascription

By (author) Andrew J. Pierce

Publication date:

31 May 2012

Length of book:

140 pages


Lexington Books

ISBN-13: 9780739171905

Collective Identity, Oppression, and the Right to Self-Ascription argues that groups have an irreducibly collective right to determine the meaning of their shared group identity, and that such a right is especially important for historically oppressed groups. The author specifies this right by way of a modified discourse ethic, demonstrating that it can provide the foundation for a conception of identity politics that avoids many of its usual pitfalls. The focus throughout is on racial identity, which provides a test case for the theory. That is, it investigates what it would mean for racial identities to be self-ascribed rather than imposed, establishing the possible role racial identity might play in a just society. The book thus makes a unique contribution to both the field of critical theory, which has been woefully silent on issues of race, and to race theory, which often either presumes that a just society would be a raceless society, or focuses primarily on understanding existing racial inequalities, in the manner typical of so-called “non-ideal theory.”
Pierce's probing analysis of the limits and possibilities of current thinking about multiculturalism, race theory, and group rights is comprehensive, judicious, and thoroughly original. Elegantly written, it represents the first sustained application of critical theory and discourse theory to the most current analytic literature in the field, and the most exhaustive attempt hitherto undertaken to rethink a positive and legitimate conception of racial identity from that perspective.