How to Overcome Structural Injustice? Social Connectedness and the Tenet of Subsidiarity

  • Michael S. AßländerEmail author
Original Paper


Referring to the phenomenon of structural injustice resulting from unintended consequences of the combination of the actions of many people, Iris Marion Young claims for a new understanding of responsibility. She proposes what she calls a social connection model of responsibility which assigns responsibility to individuals also for participating in ongoing structural and social processes. To remedy structural injustice Young claims for collective action of various actors in society and assigns different degrees of responsibility depending on the agent’s position within the structural process. However, although Young mentions power, privilege, interest, and collective ability as parameters influencing the degree of an actor’s responsibility to contribute to structural change she does not elaborate which responsibilities concern which groups in society. As we will outline in our contribution, we hold the tenet of subsidiarity to be a useful supplement to the conception of Iris Marion Young which would allow for assigning such responsibilities to different layers in society. However, since the tenet of subsidiarity is only a supple principle which does not distinguish between different kinds of duties, we propose to enrich the tenet of subsidiarity by the Kantian conception of perfect and imperfect duties.


Structural injustices Subsidiarity Political responsibility Social connectedness Liability Perfect duties Imperfect duties 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Institute ZittauTechnical University DresdenZittauGermany

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