(Mis)arguing Diversity

The Weakness of Diversity as a Civic Argument (and How to Make It Stronger)

in Democratic Theory
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In this article, I use Boltanski and Thévenot's (2006) work on “logics of justification” to make the case that diversity, defined broadly as engagement with otherness, has limited worth as a “civic argument” in the United States. I argue that “diversity talk” has not been effective in civic spheres because it does not challenge the underlying pluralist architecture of the US political system. Instead, diversity in the civic sphere is regarded as producing conflict or an apolitical “improvement in manners” (Rorty 1999) rather than as a mechanism for citizenship development. This diminishes the ability for diversity to enhance democratic citizenship by fostering the development of a type of civic wisdom necessary for effective decision making in a democratic society.

Democratic Theory

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