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


  • Marianne Moyaert Interdiciplinary Center for Religious Studies, Faculty of Theology, KULeuven, Belgium



Multiculturalism, Ricœur, Honneth, Recognition, Cultural Minorities


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.

Author Biography

Marianne Moyaert, Interdiciplinary Center for Religious Studies, Faculty of Theology, KULeuven, Belgium

Marianne Moyaert is a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Religious Studies and Interreligious dialogue at the Faculty of Theology, K.U.Leuven, Belgium. The broad field of her research is the contemporary context of cultural and religious diversity as a theological, hermeneutical and ethical challenge. She is the author of Fragile Identities: Towards a Theology of Interreligious Hospitality (Currents of Encounter) (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2011).