Love, rights and solidarity

Honneth and carework

Rhonda Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In The Struggle for Recognition (1995), Axel Honneth offers an anthropologically derived model of socialisation that maps out three spheres of recognition, love, rights and solidarity. In doing so he aims to explain and justify the importance of social relationships to the development and maintenance of a person’s identity. In setting down the three principles of recognition, Honneth has worked toward providing a theory for normative and social change; through the spheres of love, rights and esteem he has outlined the conditions of interaction within which human beings can feel confident of attaining a state of personal dignity and integrity. He has set out a complex theory that anchors one’s relationship to oneself in the positive modes of self-confidence, self respect and self esteem. The following discussion examines Honneth’s account of the emergence of the 'me' as being distinct from the 'I' through his adoption of English psychoanalyst Donald W. Winnicott’s empirical studies of object relations theory; it summarises the three forms of recognition which Honneth differentiates, and considers the relevance of the theory of recognition to the socially and culturally gendered and embedded nature of care-work. Society has come to rely and depend on care-work without noticing the extent of its contribution to social life. It is argued that until a principle of care or affection is reconfigured as instrumental to the normative foundations of a theory of recognition, care-work and the people performing it will be disrespected through the denial of their relevance to the contribution of ethical life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalNEO : journal for higher degree research students in the social sciences and humanities
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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