Envisioning a Democratic Culture of Difference: Feminist Ethics and the Politics of Dissent in Social Movements

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Using two contemporary cases of the global #MeToo movement and UK-based collective Sisters Uncut, this paper argues that a more in-depth and critical concern with gendered difference is necessary for understanding radical democratic ethics, one that advances and develops current understandings of business ethics. It draws on practices of social activism and dissent through the context of Irigaray’s later writing on democratic politics and Ziarek’s analysis of dissensus and democracy that proceeds from an emphasis on alterity as the capacity to transform nonappropriative self-other relations. Therefore, the aims of the paper are: (i) to develop a deeper understanding of a culture of difference and to consider sexual difference as central to the development of a practical democratic ethics and politics of organizations; (ii) to explore two key cases of contemporary feminist social movements that demonstrate connected yet contrasting examples of how feminist politics develops through an appreciation of embodied, intercorporeal differences; and (iii) to extend insights from Irigaray and Ziarek to examine ways in which a practical democratic politics proceeding from an embodied ethics of difference forms an important advancement to theorising the connection between ethics, dissent and democracy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)745-757
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Early online date24 Dec 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Dec 2019


  • alterity
  • democracy
  • difference
  • feminism
  • feminist ethics
  • Irigaray
  • radical politics
  • gender
  • Ziarek

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