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Martha Fineman -- Vulnerability and the Human Condition: A Different Approach to Equality

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Published on Oct 31, 2012

Webcast sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and hosted by Green College's Cecil H. and Ida Green Visiting Professor Lecture Series. As part of the "Richard V. Ericson Lecture," Martha Fineman develops the concepts of vulnerability and resilience in order to argue for a more responsive state and a more egalitarian society. Vulnerability is and should be understood to be both universal and constant, inherent in the human condition and not marking the difference between most of us and certain stigmatized "populations." The vulnerability approach is an alternative to traditional equal protection analysis; it represents a post-identity inquiry in that it is not focused only on discrimination against defined groups, but concerned with privilege and favor conferred on limited segments of the population by the state directly and through the institutions it brings into existence through law and subsequently regulates and maintains. As such, vulnerability analysis concentrates on the role of those institutions and structures in allocating and generating resilience with which to manage our common vulnerabilities. This approach has the potential to move us beyond the stifling confines of current discrimination-based models toward a more substantive vision of equality.

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