Marie Michael Library
Multiculturalism, universalism and the claims of democracy
This paper explores the tensions between universalism and cultural relativism, and the role of democracy in resolving these tensions. It argues that cultural relativism is not a useful ally for feminism. While the social meanings and significance to cultural practices are best understood by those who engage in them, the social construction of preferences and aspirations can mean that those most oppressed by a particular practice become less able to recognize its inegalitarian character. Ensuring more inclusive participation is a major element is addressing the tensions between universalism and cultural relativism, but the paper cautions against utopian expectations of achieving a fully inclusive democracy.
Culture, Political aspects