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POLS510 Community, Culture and Rights

Debates over the relationship between difference, cultural membership, and individual and collective rights in contemporary political theory that have arisen due to the increasing multicultural dimension of modern states.

What does justice mean in the increasingly plural societies that characterise most Western states? Do we need to accommodate and affirm cultural differences through public recognition, or is it sufficient to leave people to pursue their own ends within the limits of a common legal framework? These questions have been centre-stage in recent political theory, with various attempts to accommodate cultural differences. Yet this new orthodoxy is increasingly under attack in both public debates and political theory. Issues we address in this paper include the validity of human rights and universal values; liberal multiculturalism and nationalism; indigenous co-sovereignty; and the conflict between cultural and gender claims.

Paper title Community, Culture and Rights
Paper code POLS510
Subject Politics
EFTS 0.25
Points 30 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,810.00
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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POLS 402
Limited to
Teaching staff
Associate Professor Vicki Spencer
Paper Structure
  • Week 1: Introduction to Community, Culture and Rights
  • Week 2: Rights and Community
  • Week 3: Universal Values, Relativism and Pluralism
  • Week 4: Liberal Multiculturalism and the Right to Exit
  • Week 5: Toleration, the Politics of Recognition and the Case of Quebec
  • Week 6: Liberal Nationalism
  • Week 7: Immigrants and Multiculturalism
  • Week 8: Indigenous Rights and Co-sovereignty
  • Week 9: Gender, Rights and Culture
  • Week 10: Student Presentations on Research Projects
  • Week 11: Student Presentations on Research Projects
  • Week 12: Conclusions

Readings will be available on eReserve via Blackboard.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of contemporary political theories on issues relating to culture and their policy implications.

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system