Philosophy and Politics of Recognition

Project leader: Onni Hirvonen
Funder: Finnish Cultural Foundation
Duration: 2016-2019

The research project develops the general recognition-theory and aims to apply it to socially relevant practical and theoretical contexts.

Recognition (Anerkennung) is often taken to be a constitutive and political concept that extends from the core of individuals’ identities into the institutional world. What this means is that our identities are shaped by the perceptions and judgments of others. Being recognized is considered to be a fundamental human need and therefore societies can be understood to be just only as far as they can provide the recognition that their members require. Lack of respect, esteem, and care has a long-standing impact on individuals’ ability to act, live good live, and their relations to themselves. These negative effects of misrecognition and non-recognition can be, in turn, understood as a motivating force behind individual political acts, collective political movements, and formation of new political concepts. Especially various forms of identity politics can be interpreted as struggles for recognition in public space.

Interest in recognition-theoretical thinking has steadily increased during the last twenty years, especially after the seminal works by Axel Honneth and Charles Taylor in the early 1990s. This project continues to make theoretical advances in recognition theory by focusing on four interlinked themes: (1) Explicating the general nature of recognition; (2) Analysing the social suffering, pathologies, and evil related to lack of recognition; (3) Conceptualizing the overlaps between political recognition, economy, and democracy; (4) Using recognition theory to understand the connections between power, identity formation, and institutional world. The general hypothesis is that recognition-theory can be used to offer new insights for the analysis of the constitution and dynamics of social and political world.

Members of the research group:

Onni Hirvonen (PhD), University of Jyväskylä
Paddy McQueen (PhD), University College Dublin
Hans Arentshorst (MA), University of Jyväskylä
Heidi Elmgren (MSSc), University of Jyväskylä
Joonas Pennanen (MSSc), University of Jyväskylä
Corrado Piroddi (MA), University of Jyväskylä