Publication Type:
The SAGE Encyclopedia of Political Behavior, 2017
Issue Date:
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Tokenism in political discourse has two distinct meanings. First, if we choose to view politics broadly, i.e.: in terms of the pattern of outcomes (material and otherwise) generated by a particular society, tokenism is defined as the practice of satisfying the moral requirement for the inclusion of members of structurally disadvantaged people in groups that are better placed in society. This maintains the idea that social mobility is available to all when it is not. Second, if we limit our definition of politics to those institutions and practices that are designated as the specifically political i.e.: set against civil society and the family, tokenism is defined as the practice of appeasing or placating a demand for a particular course of action. This act of placation is generally perceived as both instrumentally unsatisfactory and morally inadequate.
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