Narratives of Justice: Legislators' Beliefs about Distributive Fairness

University of Michigan Press
Free sample

Narratives of Justice offers a provocative, contemporary look at the timeless questions of justice and fairness. Using face-to-face interviews, Grant Reeher plumbs the minds of legislators for their beliefs about distributive justice and attempts to discover the ways in which those beliefs influence their behavior. The book calls into question many notions of American political ideology and, in particular, the idea of an "American exceptionalism" regarding views from the political left, and the dominance in the United States of a "liberal tradition."

Political philosophers have amassed a large body of work on justice and fairness from a theoretical perspective, but there is comparatively little empirical work on the subject. The work that does exist concentrates on the beliefs of the public. We know very little concerning the beliefs about justice held by political elites. This work offers a window into the beliefs of legislators, a group for which such an inquiry is rarely undertaken.

The book is based on a set of extended, in-depth interviews with the members of the Connecticut State Senate as well as a year of close observation of the Senate in action. The interviews averaged four hours in length and covered a variety of topics related to fairness. Through this material, Reeher employs a narrative-based framework to understand the patterns in the senators' interview responses, and develops a typology of the senator's narratives. These narratives vary in both content and form, and as a whole present a surprising range of views.

Narratives of Justice will be of interest to those concerned with justice, political ideologies, and political beliefs, as well as state and local politics and, more generally, American politics. Its wide research and thorough documentation make it a useful guide to the literature within and beyond political science concerning beliefs, ideologies, legislative behavior, and qualitative research methods.

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About the author

Grant Reeher is associate professor of political science at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He is the co-author of "Click on Democracy: The Internet's Power to Change Political Apathy into Civic Action.

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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Michigan Press
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Published on
May 6, 2010
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9780472022038
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Edward Weisband's pioneering text is destined to transform the current teaching of world political economy at both the introductory and the advanced level. Outlining the moral principles and ethical concepts fundamental to grasping the human significance of poverty, he clearly reveals what is often hinted at but rarely stated–that the political dimensions of poverty and distributive justice constitute the organizing framework of the study of world political economy. Against a backdrop of readings, Professor Weisband's insightful, interpretative essays generate an interdisciplinary discussion, a synthesis of theoretical perspectives and value orientations, providing students with a critical comprehension of the complex workings of the world economy. The essays link basic approaches to world politics and international relations, international law and organization, international sociology, development studies, and moral philosophy to give texture to such basic theories as modes of production, dependency, world systems, unequal exchange, the labor theory of value, free-trade liberalism, neomercantilism, Marxism, and neo-Marxism. Alternative value orientations are also explored, including realist and neo-realist, conservative and liberal, egalitarian and cosmopolitan, radical and materialist. Poverty Amidst Plenty combines theory and analysis with historical and normative perspectives to offer students a relevant, prescriptive, and most of all, human picture of the far-reaching system that governs much of our lives.
This volume considers the dynamic relations between the contemporary practices of international criminal tribunals and the ways in which competing histories, politics and discourses are re-imagined and re-constructed in the former Yugoslavia and beyond. There are two innovative aspects of the book - one is the focus on narratives of justice and their production, another is in its comparative perspective. While legal scholars have tended to analyze transitional justice and the international war tribunals in terms of their success or failure in establishing the facts of war crimes, this volume goes beyond mere facts and investigates how the courts create a symbolic space within which competing narratives of crimes, perpetrators and victims are produced, circulated and contested. It analyzes how international criminal law and the courts gather, and in turn produce, knowledge about societies in war, their histories and identities, and their relations to the wider world.

Moreover, the volume situates narratives of transitional justice in former Yugoslavia both within specific national spaces - such as Serbia, and Bosnia - and beyond the Yugoslav. In this way it also considers experiences from other countries and other times (post-World War II) to offer a sounding board for re-thinking the meanings of transitional justice and institutions within former Yugoslavia. Included in the volume's coverage is a look at the Rwandan tribunals, the trials of Charles Taylor, Radovan Karadzic, the Srebrenica genocide, and other war crimes and criminals in the Yugoslav. Finally, it frames all of those narratives and experiences within the global dynamics of legal, social and geo-political transformations, making it an excellent resource for social science researchers, human rights activists, those interested in the former Yugoslavia and international relations, and legal scholars.

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