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    Who enjoys the benefits of rights?

    Clarke, Anna (2023) Who enjoys the benefits of rights? PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

    final thesis 23 May 2023 AClarke.pdf - Full Version

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    There is a problem with citizens’ rights in Western liberal democracies, a problem largely ignored in the philosophy of rights except as an aspect of ‘discrimination’. Citizens’ rights are defended as a bedrock of political equality, a springboard for personal freedom, opportunity and success in the exercise of autonomy and individual choice. However, the persistence of inequality across multiple metrics, and the extent to which rights are in practice denied to socially salient groups, provide powerful evidence that citizens’ rights do not deliver on their promise of status-equality. My thesis addresses this failure. Drawing on Hohfeld’s celebrated analysis of rights, I examine the relation between formal citizens’ rights and the parallel working of ‘informal’ jural relations of social entitlement and obligation. To understand the limitations of formal rights, we need to take account of their informal, social counterparts, locating both formal and informal jural relations in the complexity of the social world. I use case studies to show how informal jural relations impose obligations that diminish the freedom of some while promoting that of others, thus undermining the status equality that formal rights are meant to deliver. I analyse the spatial dimension of our formal and informal jural relations. Starting from Kant, I criticise the view that space is a continuous medium in which liberties conflict. Drawing on Heidegger and Bourdieu, I develop a phenomenologically richer account of the conflicts that arise in the socially differentiated space in which we seek to exercise our formal and informal jural relations. A more robust conception of political equality, I propose, needs to look at a neo-Roman account of liberty and engage with the complex social hierarchies in which we live. With this approach we can conceive what it would take to offer a full enjoyment of citizens’ rights to all.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2023 16:22
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 16:11


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