Revisiting False Consciousness: the Case of Battered Women

Shu-Shan Lee

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Liberal hostility toward the language of false consciousness is well grounded in the principle of negative liberty. However, negative liberty seems to be eroding the ability of liberals to protect individual freedom. To articulate this point, this article contrasts the stories of battered women with the theories of Isaiah Berlin and Judith Shklar. It demonstrates that Berlin and Shklar’s teachings have served as a theoretical hand which causes liberals to turn their back on battered women and to obsess over legal reforms. As a result, they exemplify the weakness of liberals to redeem the freedom of battered women. In this paper, the journey to revisit false consciousness crystallizes into an ethical calling: to talk to fearful people. In sum, it aims at creating a liberal notion of false consciousness which serves to turn liberals around and forces them to directly engage with and rescue people overwhelmed by fears.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationthe Annual Conference of Northeastern Political Science Association, Boston
Place of PublicationBoston, United States
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • battered women, false consciousness, fear, negative liberty, social constructivism

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Revisiting False Consciousness: the Case of Battered Women'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this