Misztal, Barbara A.
Sociology University of Leicester Leicester, UK
The aim of the paper is to bring together the idea of decent society (Margalit 1996), the theory of recognition (Honneth 1995, 2003, 2007) in order to disuses whether a decent society is a necessary step on the way to a participatory democratic society. A decent society, according to Margalit (1996: 159) is a society that does not exclude any group of citizens from symbolic citizenship. "Citizenship in a decent society must be egalitarian in order not to be humiliating" ( Margalit 1996:154). A decent society, that is, a society whose institutions do not humiliate people, is not necessarily a welfare society and it is unclear if a just (Rawlsian) society is necessarily also a decent society (Margalit 1996:246, 281). Honneth's theory of recognition, which stresses the universal aspiration for recognition, claims s that understanding of justice must encompass two sets of concerns: a struggle over distribution and a struggle for recognition. It locates the core of all experiences of injustice in the phenomena of humiliation and disrespect: "the experience of a withdrawal of social recognition ought to be at the centre of meaningful concept of socially caused suffering and injustice"(Honneth 2003:132). Bringing together Margalit's (1996:157) idea that "humiliation is the rejection of legitimate encompassing groups"and Honneth's identification of a good society is a society in which individual has a real opportunity for full-self realization, allows us to see social participation through forms of mutual recognition as a goal for whose sake we should want to establish social justice. Thus , following Tocqueville's (1969:517) assertion that if ?men are to remain civilized, the art of association must develop and improve among them?(1969:517), it can be argued that a decent society needs to be a participatory democracy.