The first comprehensive analysis of the philosophical issues raised by the hijab controversy in France, this book also conducts a dialogue between contemporary Anglo-American and French political theory and defends a progressive republican solution to so-called multicultural conflicts in contemporary societies. It critically assesses the official republican philosophy of laïcité which purported to justify the 2004 ban on religious signs in schools. Laïcité is shown to encompass a comprehensive theory of republican citizenship, centered on three ideals: equality (secular neutrality of the public sphere), liberty (individual autonomy and emancipation) and fraternity (civic loyalty to the community of citizens). Challenging official interpretations of laïcité, the book then puts forward a critical republicanism which does not support the hijab ban, yet upholds a revised interpretation of three central republican commitments: secularism, non-domination and civic solidarity. Thus, it articulates a version of secularism which squarely addresses the problem of status quo biasthe fact that Western societies are historically not neutral towards all religions. It also defends a vision of female emancipation which rejects the coercive paternalism inherent in the regulation of religious dress, yet does not leave individuals unaided in the face of religious and secular, patriarchal and ethnocentric domination. Finally, the book outlines a theory of immigrant integration which places the burden of civic integration on basic socio-political institutions, rather than on citizens themselves. Critical republicanism proposes an entirely new approach to the management of religious and cultural pluralism, centerd on the pursuit of the progressive ideal of non-domination in existing, non-ideal societies.
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About the Author
Cécile Laborde is Reader in Political Theory, University College London. She has recently published Pluralist Thought and the State in Britain and France and Republicanism and Political Theory. Her work on secularism, multiculturalism, patriotism, and republicanism has recently been published in Journal of Political Philosophy, Political Theory, British Journal of Political Science, Political Studies and Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Political Philosophy, Social Theory and Critical Republicanism
Egalité: On Republican Neutrality
2. Official Republicanism, Equality and the Hijab
3. Tolerant Republicanism and the Critique of Republican Neutrality
4. Critical Republicanism, Secularism and Impartiality
Liberté: On Republican Autonomy
5. Official Republicanism, Liberty and the Hijab
6. Female Agency and the Critique of Republican Paternalism
7. Critical Republicanism and Non-Domination
Fraternité: On Republican Solidarity
8. Official Republicanism, Solidarity and the Hijab
9. Socio-Cultural Exclusion and the Critique of Republican Nationalism
10. Critical Republicanism, Civic Patriotism and Social Equality