Maeve McKeown, ‘Structural injustice’

The concept of ‘structural injustice’ has a long intellectual lineage, but Iris Marion Young popularised the term in her late work in the 2000s. Young’s theory tapped into the zeitgeist of the time, providing a credible way of thinking about transnational and domestic injustices, illuminating the importance of political, economic and social structures in generating injustice, theorising the role of individuals in perpetuating structural injustice, and the responsibility of everyone to try to correct it. Young’s theory has inspired secondary and novel research. In this paper, I outline the main topics in this recent literature: what structural injustice is, responsibility for structural injustice, acting on responsibility, avoiding responsibility, and historical injustice. I conclude by noting how the influence of structural injustice theory is spreading beyond the confines of political theory. Any field that is concerned with structural inequalities, disadvantage, or oppression, can utilize structural injustice theory.

Maeve McKeown, Structural injustice, Philosophy Compass, First published: 18 June 2021.

First posted 2021-06-19 10:00:09

Leave a Reply