The Place of ‘Respect' in the Sociological Understanding of Inequality: Some Reflections Based on the Chilean Case

Sunday, 10 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Distributed Paper
Macarena ORCHARD, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom
This paper reflects on the place of “respect” in the sociological understanding of inequality. Respect has been a central topic in moral philosophy, but it has not received enough attention in sociological research. Certainly, sociology has addressed some dimensions of respect through the analysis of the concept of status and more recently through the analysis of the problem of identity politics and recognition (Fraser & Honneth, 1993; Honneth, 1995, 2009). However, the analysis of the several dynamics involved in the granting and neglecting of respect to others at the level of everyday life is still a pending task. This is a relevant failure. In fact, several authors in recent times have argued, although from different reasons, that a better understanding of respect –or similar phenomena such as worth, recognition or status- is needed in order to improve the general sociological understanding of inequality (Lamont et.al. 2014; Ridgeway, 2014, Therborn 2006; Sennett, 2003). In light of this, the paper proposes an analytical framework for the sociological study of respect at the everyday level. In order to show the performance of this approach, the paper discusses some preliminary findings of a mixed method study carried out by the author in Chilean society. Finally, the paper argues that studying respect is relevant in explanatory terms, but also in normative terms. By highlighting how and why the experience of lack of respect is unequally distributed and how it produces moral suffering to people, sociology has an opportunity to put the problem of inequality into the front.