Governments around the world combat inequality by means of group-specific redistribution. Some pursue redistribution that benefits groups, but also wish to avoid accentuating or even recognizing group distinctions. This poses a dilemma that they try to resolve by adjusting the category system used to target redistribution. There are three types of adjustment: accommodation (the multicultural approach), denial (the ideal-typical liberal solution), and replacement (a compromise). In replacement the targets of redistributive policies are constructed to avoid accentuation or recognition of inconvenient group distinctions, but still allow redistribution that benefits these groups. Replacement is increasingly in demand around the world because the disadvantages of multiculturalism are becoming apparent while denial is hard to sustain in the face of group inequality. The actual effect of replacement is little researched and less understood, however. Does it resolve the dilemma of recognition? Two examples–India and Nigeria–where replacement has been tried ever since the 1950s cast doubt on its viability.
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De Zwart, F. The dilemma of recognition: Administrative categories and cultural diversity. Theor Soc 34, 137–169 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11186-005-6234-3