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Debating Rights Inflation in Canada

A Sociology of Human Rights

By Dominique Clément
Subjects Law, Social Science, Sociology
Series Canadian Commentaries Hide Details
Paperback : 9781771122443, 174 pages, October 2018
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781771122764, 174 pages, October 2018
Ebook (PDF) : 9781771122757, 174 pages, October 2018

Table of contents

Table of Contents
Rights Inflation in Canada – Dominique Clément
Commentary: The Right Investment in Rights – Nathalie DesRosiers
Commentary: Too Many Rights? – Pearl Eliadis
Commentary: Liberalism, Social Democracy, and Human Rights – Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann
Commentary: Historical Contingency and Human Rights Pluralism – Gert Verschraegen


Human rights has become the dominant vernacular for framing social problems around the world. In this book, Dominique Clément presents a paradox in politics, law, and social practice: he argues that whereas framing grievances as human rights violations has become an effective strategy, the increasing appropriation of rights-talk to frame any and all grievances undermines attempts to address systemic social problems. His argument is followed by commentator response from several leading human rights scholars and practitioners in Canada and abroad who bridge the divide between academia, public policy, and practice.


In Canada, as in many other advanced countries, human rights have proliferated, leading many commentators to proclaim that rights have triumphed over other modes of social organization. Perhaps so, but Dominique Clément worries that "rights inflation" beyond the protection of core interests paradoxically interferes with broader efforts to achieve social justice. In this fascinating book, Clément lays out a powerful account of the dark side of the Canadian experience of human rights. Four responses by leading experts give the reader numerous perspectives on this difficult problem.

- Eric Posner, Professor, University of Chicago Law School