Between Ideology and Utopia: Honneth and Ricoeur on Symbolic Violence, Marginalization and Recognition

Marianne Moyaert


This article focuses on multiculturalism in the context of present-day societies and the need to incorporate minorities within a reframed social order. In his critical theory, Axel Honneth rightly draws attention to the idea of the moral grammar of struggles for recognition.  Analyzing his theory in depth, the article shows that Honneth underestimates the violent power of ideological discourse in marginalizing and excluding society’s others, e.g. cultural minorities. It then puts forward an alternative approach based on Ricœur’s creative and original reflections on ideology and utopia. For the incorporation of cultural minorities to occur, the symbolic order of society needs to be critiqued, transformed and expanded. From this perspective, the author highlights the subversive and transformative strength of utopian counter-narratives. The latter form a vital resource for cultural minorities in their struggle for recognition.


Multiculturalism, Ricœur, Honneth, Recognition, Cultural Minorities

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2011 Marianne Moyaert

License URL:

This journal is published by the University Library System, University of Pittsburgh as part of its D-Scribe Digital Publishing Program and is cosponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

ISSN 2156-7808 (online)