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Lecture 11

PHL271H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 11: Old Age, Intersectionality, Iyer

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Sophia Moreau

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Thursday, December 3, 2015
PHL271 Lecture 11
Nitya Iyer, “Categorical Denials”
Main Point:
-A grounds-based approach obscures the complexity of social identity
questions any approach that requires claimant to pick a single trait
they can point to an intersection of lots of different traits by which they were
discriminated under
why not just ask on a contextual basis whether the claimants were facing unfair
-It forces claimants to mischaracterise themselves
-It thereby makes it harder for some claimants’ problems to be seen as real problem
2 claims about the prohibited “grounds” as categories:
1) Placing an item in a category suggests similarities between it and other items in that
category: e.g. Shauna is black
-but categorization is also a process of differentiating these items from something
they are not: i.e. not white
2) All of the prohibited grounds simplicity reflect a hierarchy. e.g. white/black, male/
female, competent adult/frail senior citizen
-Usually the dominant group is the one that is treated as “normal” and that gets to
define both itself and the other group
A. Two problems with any list of grounds
1) Choice of grounds reflects dominant group’s views about how it is appropriate to
distinguish between people
E.g. poverty, physical appearance are not on the list
*List is socially contingent, but appears i) natural and ii) permanent
2) Content or meaning of each category is determined by the dominant group, in
relation to who they are. The minorities are “other”. I.e. Black is “not white”. Women
are “not men”.
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