Dignity, multiculturality and politicity towards a renewal of the human development approach

Meléndez Charris, Verónica (2018). 'DIGNITY, MULTICULTURALITY AND POLITICITY Towards a Renewal of the Human Development Approach' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2018.


Exclusion is an effect of individual as well as group differentiation, where inferiorization refers to the status of the individual within society. Conflicts of inclusion / exclusion –limited inclusion and social differentiation– and their forms of resolution, have allowed the emergence of a new politicity, whose main protagonists are young people, who seek, through a new public space called cyberspace, or network society (Castells, 1997), retake democratic values, participatory, pluralistic and equitable, whose ultimate goal is to revalue human dignity through the strengthening of education, information and knowledge.

However, these tensions pose several problems, one of which is to be able to answer the question of how to live well among different people and groups in search of greater and better inclusion and true equity. Also, in addition to being a new public space, cyberspace becomes a space that includes at the same time that it excludes not only information, but also individuals and / or groups.

The second problem posed by this tension is the capacity of the State to deal with these, so that political issues of great complexity are outlined that lead the State itself to rethink its courses of action, as well as broadening the deliberative options, one of the more important demands of social movements that have currently "forced" the State to rethink Human Development through demands for a more equitable and just society.

This search leads to raise the issue of human dignity as the core of human rights and development and not just freedom. A dignity or, according to J. Habermas (2010), a "social honor" that requires a status, this time universal and equal, that transcends the limits of the State and is anchored not only in democratic States, but also in citizenship, "resorting to the means provided by positive law" (Habermas, 2010). The foregoing forces us to rethink the inclusion of cultural identities, since the agency is built with the others, in the conflict as a scenario for the struggle for dignity.

The coexistence between different poses, in addition, another problem that A. Sen (2004) has questioned, referring to the vision of multiculturalism as peaceful coexistence. For Sen, there is no coexistence without conflicts, for this reason he projects the concept of inter-culturality to point out that the coexistence between several cultures must be based on respect for diversity, as well as on the right to equality as a basic condition of human dignity. For Sen diversity is a value in itself, which constitutes a source for Human Development; However, there must also be freedom of choice in the face of multiple identities in contexts where these are superimposed, interconnected and made viable through processes of critical rationality.

The primacy must be located in the meta-narrative that symbolizes human rights. However, it is substantial to respect, as stated by Sen, diversity and the construction of multiraunts that reaffirm diversity and that build personal and group identity in their own environment without pretending "that each of them be universalized as the only obligatory truth of «The others»" (Vega, 2004). The importance of cultural freedom as a core of human dignity means that people can exercise their religion, culture, gender identity or other, without being disturbed, discriminated or humiliated, in addition to reaffirming their own history.

Through some social movements that have emerged in Latin America and the Caribbean we can observe how the cultural and social diversity of young people helps to broaden the circles of action of human development oriented, in the first place, to information, since they can, using the internet as a public space, raising demands for equity, justice, participation with the use of more flexible codes and a techno-sociability context.

As we see, dignity is present in each of the different cultures, in which the concept is interpreted differently. The catalytic function of human dignity, first as a moral concept and then as a legal concept, lies in the construction of human rights, since rights, regardless of the differences that may be found in humanity, are invested with a moral burden that transcends all difference: human dignity, and this, for Habermas (2010), is the most important legacy that the Constitutional Revolution of the XVIII Century could have left us.

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