Justice, Democracy and Difference

Subject 166-416 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

Semester 1, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour seminar per week
Total Time Commitment: 2 contact hours/week , 8 additional hours/week. Total of 10 hours per week.
Prerequisites: Admission to the Postgraduate Certificate / Diploma in Political Science, International Politics, Sociology, Public Policy and Management, Criminology or Socio-Legal Studies, or Fourth-year Honours in Political Science, Sociology, International Studies, Public Policy and Management, Criminology or Socio-Legal Studies, or the Master of Public Policy and Management, Master of Social Policy, Master of International Politics or Master of Criminology.
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Prof Robyn Eckersley


Prof. Robyn Eckersley
Subject Overview: This subject provides a critical examination of contemporary debates about ideas of justice, democracy and the politics of difference. The subject critically explores both the major liberal approaches to justice alongside critiques of liberal approaches by communitarian, socialist, feminist, postmodern and radical ecological theorists. Students will be introduced to the different perspectives on justice in terms of their linkages and, in some cases, increasing convergence with different approaches to dealing with democracy and difference. Particular emphasis is given to the tensions between cosmopolitan versus communitarian approaches to ordering political life and the tensions between arguments for individual versus group/communal rights. The different perspectives on justice, democracy and difference are analysed and applied in relation to a range of contemporary political conflicts concerning race, ethnicity, class, gender, the environment and the multicultural state. Examples include political claims for the recognition of ethnic minority rights; the political recognition of religious, ethnic and/or gender difference; the special or weighted political representation or veto rights of ethnic minorities; the different political interpretations of, and priorities accorded to, the human rights agenda; and claims for self-determination by indigenous peoples and national minorities.
  • recognise and understand the major perspectives on justice in contemporary political thought (i.e., liberal, communitarian, socialist, feminist, postmodern, postcolonial and ecological);
  • be able to understand the linkages and, in some cases, increasing convergence between different perspectives on justice and different approaches to dealing with democracy and difference (or political participation and recognition), manifest in the increasing interest in free political communication or 'dialogic justice';
  • be able to identify and comprehend the key points of agreement and disagreement between each perspective, including the tensions between cosmopolitan and communitarian approaches and the contested debate over the fairness of individual versus 'group' or 'communal' rights;
  • be able to relate the theoretical debates about justice, democracy and difference to contemporary political controversies, including political claims for the recognition of ethnic/cultural, religious, linguistic, gender and sexual difference; veto powers or special representation by ethnic minorities, the critique of universal human rights; and the case for self-determination and/or secession by indigenous peoples and national minorities.
Assessment: An essay of 5000 words 100% (due at the end of semester).
Prescribed Texts: A subject reader will be provided
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • be able to apply research skills and critical methods to a field of inquiry;
  • have developed persuasive arguments on a given topic;
  • be able to communicate oral and written arguments and ideas effectively and articulately.
Notes: Formerly available as 166-416. Students who have completed 166-416 are not eligible to enrol in this subject.
Related Course(s): Bachelor of Public Policy and Management(Honours)
Master of Criminology (CWT)
Master of Development Studies (Gender & Development)
Master of Development Studies(CWT)
Master of International Politics
Master of International Studies
Master of Public Policy and Management (Coursework)
Postgraduate Certificate in International Studies
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts(Development Studies)
Postgraduate Diploma in International Studies
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Criminology
Development Studies
Development Studies
Development Studies
Gender Studies
Gender Studies
Gender Studies
International Politics
International Politics
International Studies
Political Science
Political Science
Political Science
Public Policy and Management
Public Policy and Management
Socio-Legal studies
Socio-legal Studies

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