Martha Albertson Fineman, “The Vulnerable Subject: Anchoring Equality in the Human Condition”

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This essay develops the concept of vulnerability in order to argue for a more responsive state and a more egalitarian society. Vulnerability is and should be understood to be universal and constant, inherent in the human condition. The vulnerability approach is an alternative to traditional equal protection analysis; it represents a post-identity inquiry in that it is not focused only on discrimination against defined groups, but concerned with privilege and favor conferred on limited segments of the population by the state and broader society through their institutions. As such, vulnerability analysis concentrates on the institutions and structures our society has and will establish to manage our common vulnerabilities. This approach has the potential to move us beyond the stifling confines of current discrimination-based models toward a more substantive vision of equality.

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This article is going to be important. It will appear shortly in the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2008.

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