Ontology and the Subjectivities of Inequality
What questions does the ‘ontological turn’ raise for understandings of power and inequality? This paper examines these issues by considering work on the subjectivities of inequality. Conventionally, such work - adopting a realist or critical realist approach - has been more successful in explaining why people fail to acknowledge or recognise inequality than in accounting for when they do. This paper looks at different approaches to the subjectivities of inequality, and argues that it is important to understand what shapes everyday ‘views’ or framings of inequalities in terms of their practical, situational and strategic significance. It argues that we need to examine everyday forms of protest, dissent and misbehaviour from the point of view of a (Deweyan) pragmatist analysis, seeing the subjectivities of inequality within a broader framework of people’s attempts to grapple with their practical problems and so engage in ongoing reconstructions of their social experience. However, this also raises questions about how power, and its ‘recognition’, is understood within ‘flatter’ ontological approaches to subjectivity.