Challenging Diversity

What challenges are presented by the claim that diversity should be celebrated? How should equality politics respond to controversial constituencies, such as smokers and sports hunters, when they position themselves as disadvantaged? Challenging Diversity brings a new and original approach to key issues facing social, political and cultural theory. Critically engaging with feminist, radical democratic and liberal scholarship, the book addresses four major challenges confronting a radical equality politics. Namely, what does equality mean for preferences and choices that appear harmful; are equality’s subjects individuals, groups or something else; what power do dominant norms have to undermine equality-oriented reforms; and can radical practices endure when they collide with the mainstream? Taking examples from religion, gender, sexuality, state policy-making and intentional communities, Challenging Diversity maps new ways of understanding equality, explores the politics of its pursuit, and asks what kinds of diversity does a radical version of equality engender.

• Offers a new theoretical framework that addresses social relations of inequality • Highlights problems in existing theoretical perspectives on social diversity and difference • Draws upon a range of debates across socio-theoretical, feminist, multi-culturalist and socio-legal studies and will have broad appeal


1. Introduction: mapping the terrain; 2. Diversity politics: beyond a pluralism without limits; 3. From blokes to smokes: theorising the difference; 4. Towards equality of power; 5. Normative encounters: the politics of same-sex spousal equality; 6. Getting in the way: the social power of nuisance; 7. Oppositional routines: the problem of embedding change; 8. Safeguarding community pathways: ‘possibly the happiest school in the world’ and other porous places; 9. Diversity through equality.


\'In Challenging Diversity Davina Cooper is engaged in defining how to approach equality in the contemporary developed world, where a politics of diversity has complex manifestation.\' Social and Legal Studies

\'… this is a rich and dense monograph, which weaves a wide array of concerns into a theoretically sophisticated framework for negotiating the challenges of diversity from a radical pluralist perspective.\' Feminist Legal Studies