Grounded Normative Theory

Deepening its commitment to grounding global justice theory in the real experiences of those struggling against injustice, the CGJ is a core partner of the Grounded Normative Theory working group.

Normative political theorists often engage in the direct study of political life, sometimes engaging with groups in political struggle, in order to produce rich and relevant work. However, these activities have not been identified as a distinct approach to political theory.  Our working group proposes grounded normative theory (GNT) as an approach with core commitments to developing and analyzing data in a way that broadens and deepens the range of ideas, interests, and actors included in normative theorizing. These commitments, and their methodological implications, can improve the comprehensiveness, rigor, and relevance of normative theory, and can enhance the accountability of normative theorizing to those people whose lives are directly affected by the issues and principles under consideration. Together we are exploring why this kind of theorizing is valuable, identifying different ways of doing it well, and addressing distinct challenges it poses.

Formed in 2016, the core partners have organized workshops, roundtables, conference panels and informal convenings across Europe, Canada and the US, expanding to include a range of diverse political theorists who are receptive to integrating empirical work into political theorizing. A foundational paper is forthcoming, with plans to develop a disciplinary handbook.

Core Partners:

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