Equality of opportunity and the precarization of labour markets

Publikationsår: 2017

Birnbaum, Simon

European Journal of Political Theory, DOI: 10.1177/1474885117738116


How can we equalize opportunities while respecting people’s freedom? According to a view that I call libertarian resourcism, people’s fair shares of resources should normally take the form of unconditional, individual cash endowments, thereby supporting the freedom to do whatever they might want to do. This view, of which Van Parijs’ philosophy of ‘real freedom for all’ is the clearest and most well-known example, has
become a powerful weapon to criticize work conditionality as unfair and perfectionistic (or illiberal), and to motivate political struggles for the emancipation of the precariat. However, similar views are also expressed in many other justifications of basic income that stress the strategic importance of exit-based empowerment. This article argues that the reliance of these theories on concepts and assumptions of libertarianism makes
them ill-equipped to justify core requirements of social empowerment, and to identify the forms of agency needed to sustainably advance the radical objectives they favour. The implication of this is not to reject the link between social justice and unconditional resource endowments but to dissociate the justification and design of such measures from libertarian ways of thinking.

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