Political Resistance to Structural Injustice



This panel aims to stimulate dialogue concerning the nature of resistance to democratic institutions of power, particularly in light of deep and widespread structural injustice.

Resistance to the democratic states, both civil and violent, has attracted public attention and achieved varying levels of success in recent years (including the Yellow Shirts movement, Black Lives Matter, Fees Must Fall). Despite their democratic structures, the countries in which many of these movements occur are beset by structural injustice that has led to deep socio-economic inequalities and deprivations. These movements thus reveal a critical conundrum: when are citizens of democracies obligated to support state institutions and when does structural injustice require them to resist? Mainstream literature on resistance offers limited help in making sense of this conundrum. Most theorists, particularly in the Rawlsian tradition, emphasise the importance of ‘civility’ despite disagreement on what exactly civility refers to. In her latest book, Candice Delmas challenges the traditional understanding of resistance and reflects on the emphasis on civility. Her arguments invite us to think about the justification and even moral necessity of uncivil resistance.

Moreover, the revisionist move in the literature on Just War Theory suggests that the rules of warfare and self-defence can be applied to other contexts. This might give us the tools to think about violence against the state. This presents the opportunity to apply well-researched topics, such as necessity and proportionality, to a relatively novel field.Our panel aims to bring together theorists working in this area and broaden the discussion on resistance. Questions we are interested include but not limited to the following:Why is the traditional Rawlsian account of civil disobedience insufficient in making sense of contemporary resistance?

  • Why is the traditional Rawlsian account of civil disobedience insufficient in making sense of contemporary resistance?
  • What is civility and is it necessary for a justified resistance?
  • Do we have a duty to resist injustice? If so, what grounds such a duty?
  • Can Just War Theory inform our discussion on resistance? If so, when can violence be necessary and proportionate?  






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