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Radical geography and its critical standpoints: embracing the normative

Olson, Elizabeth and Sayer, Andrew (2009) Radical geography and its critical standpoints: embracing the normative. Antipode, 41 (1). pp. 180-198. ISSN 0066-4812

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Abstract

This paper throws down a challenge to radical geography and invites a selection of leading geographers to respond. It proposes that radical or critical geography cannot escape normative foundations in terms of some conception of the human good or flourishing, and that this is not necessarily at odds with the descriptive and explanatory aims of social science. Various attempts to define and justify critical thought without such a conception are shown to be deficient, and incapable of distinguishing oppression from well-being. Objections that such a project will be subjective, ethnocentric, essentialist and implicitly authoritarian are discussed and rejected. Normative thinking needs to go beyond liberal concern with freedom, to address what Sen and Nussbaum term “capabilities”—the range of things people need to be able to have and do to flourish. The power of this kind of normative thinking is illustrated by reference to examples from development studies. The paper concludes with some basic questions for radical geographers.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Antipode
Uncontrolled Keywords: capabilities ; critique ; development human flourishing ; normativity
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology
ID Code: 54994
Deposited By: ep_importer_pure
Deposited On: 11 Jun 2012 09:59
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2012 20:33
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/54994

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