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The Experience of Injustice - A Theory of Recognition

Emmanuel Renault | Translated by Richard A. Lynch

Bringing together political theory, critical social science, and a keen sense of the power of popular movements, French philosopher Emmanuel Renault offers a new and forceful vision of social justice placing the experience of social suffering at the heart of contemporary critical theory.

Inspired by Axel Honneth, Renault argues that a radicalized version of Honneth’s ethics of recognition can provide a systematic alternative to the liberal-democratic projects of such thinkers as Rawls and Habermas. Renault reformulates Honneth’s theory as a framework founded on experiences of injustice. He develops a complex, psychoanalytically rich account of suffering, disaffiliation, and identity loss to explain these experiences as denials of recognition, linking everyday injustice to a robust defense of the politicization of identity in social struggles. Engaging contemporary French and German critical theory alongside interdisciplinary tools from sociology, psychoanalysis, socialist political theory, social-movement theory, and philosophy, Renault articulates the importance of a theory of recognition for the resurgence of social critique.

Originally published by La Découverte in 2004 with the title L'expérience de l'injustice. Translation available from February 26.

Learn more about the book here.


Emmanuel Renault is professor of philosophy at University of Paris-Nanterre. His books in English include Social Suffering: Sociology, Psychology, Politics (2017) and The Return of Work in Critical Theory: Self, Society, Politics (Columbia, 2018).

Richard A. Lynch is author of Foucault’s Critical Ethics (2016) and translator of Isabelle Thomas-Fogiel’s The Death of Philosophy: Reference and Self-Reference in Contemporary Thought (Columbia, 2011).

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