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Nancy Fraser

Nancy Fraser (Baltimore, 20 May 1947) is an American critical theorist, currently the Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor of Political and Social Science and professor of philosophy at The New School in New York City. Fraser earned her PhD in philosophy from the CUNY Graduate Center and taught in the philosophy department atNorthwestern University for several years before moving to the New School. 


A noted feminist thinker concerned with conceptions of justice, she argues that justice is a complex concept which must be understood from the standpoint of three separate yet interrelated dimensions: distribution (of resources), recognition (of the varying contributions of different groups), and representation (linguistic). She believes that as blank slate theory becomes increasingly marginalised by advances in genetics, Marxists should refocus their efforts on the espousal of blind redistribution over more equitable concepts of social justice such as those advocating the need for different groups to make concrete contributions to society. In keeping with her quest to avoid reductive conceptions of issues such as justice and democratic participation, she also argues that social theorists should synthesize elements of critical theory and post-structuralism, overcoming the "false antithesis" between the two, in order to gain a fuller understanding of the social and political issues with which both approaches are concerned.

However, Fraser is not advocating a vague confusion of the two, but rather a pragmatic approach in which each school of thought is rigorously interrogated in order to separate its useful from its non-useful or detrimental elements for a democratic analysis of societal institutions and social movements. Thus Fraser is squarely in the tradition of left-democratic values while accommodating within this tradition the more recent insights of feminist theories, critical theory, and post-structuralism. In addition to her many publications and lectures, Fraser is a former Co-editor of Constellations, an international journal of critical and democratic theory, where she remains an active member of the Editorial Council.