- LAST REVIEWED: 20 December 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 27 October 2016
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0172
- LAST REVIEWED: 20 December 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 27 October 2016
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0172
Social justice has both conceptual and empirical aspects. It is both a way of critically thinking about people, organizations, institutions, and movements and a set of actions that question, interrogate, and challenge inequity, inequality, and injustice. Social justice is most commonly conceived as a process rather than an outcome, as there is no final triumph over interpersonal and systemic oppression. Rather, social justice is an ongoing approach to critical engagement in sociopolitical life that includes such actions as transformational public intellectualism, nonviolent resistance, critical consciousness, coalition building, and critical activism. As a perspective and set of actions related to education, social justice calls for students, teachers, administrators, policymakers, and other community members to teach liberation of self and society rather than conformity to or acceptance of an inequitable status quo. While the ways to approach discussions of social justice are many and varied, this article is organized to provide a review of the key literature in various fields of the social sciences and to consider how these relate to education, seeking both to identify key concepts and to include understudied approaches. In particular, works cited are drawn from fields that include ethics, black studies, philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, anthropology, and public policy. Works of scholarship specific to education, focusing on student, teacher, administrator, and community, and policy research that aligns with each of these areas have been reviewed and included.
Ethics, Educator Development, and Practice
Philosophers and researchers have argued for the importance of including ethical study and reflection in educational preparation programs for prospective teachers and administrators (Shapiro and Stefkovich 2011). A moral foundation allows educators to evaluate the current and potential good of their practices in the midst of an abundance of non-research-based instructional fads, trends, tests, methodologies, and ideologies (Starratt 2004). While ethical reflection and inquiry may clarify some elusive concepts and help educators reframe their thinking about their work, curiosity and perspective-shifting are not enough—action must follow. Ethics seeks to resolve questions dealing with human morality. It involves concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime. The term comes from the Greek word “ethos” which means “character” (Aristotle 2003). Aristotle’s ideas hold great value in that they constitute a framework within which situations can be assessed from an ethical perspective (Brooks and Normore 2005). It seems appropriate to tailor educator preparation programs around the development and enhancement of students’ ability to examine the values and motivations that guide their behavior and that reflect on the intended and unintended consequences of those behaviors. Educator preparation programs must deal explicitly with formal ethical concerns and argue that their framework of ethics of critique, justice, and care are mutually inseparable and complimentary to each other. The ethic of critique calls upon us to “speak out against unjust rules and laws and social arrangements,” while the ethic of justice concerns the “universal application of principles of justice among individuals in society” (Starratt 2004, p. 98). Lastly, the ethic of care “compels us to be proactively sensitive to another person, extending ourselves beyond duty and convenience to offer other persons our concern and attention” (Starratt 2004, p. 99). Scholars of education are connecting the study of ethics with the concept of social justice (Normore and Brooks 2014). Although the two are closely related they are not intended to be used interchangeably. Still, these distinct and separate areas of scholarship are natural compliments to each other, particularly as one examines the relationship between moral/ethical reasoning and the transition of this reasoning into actions that move beyond conventional models of leadership and learning toward rights-based models of social justice leadership.
Applebaum, B. 2011. Being white, being good: White complicity, white moral responsibility, and social justice pedagogy. Lexington, KY: Lexington Books.
The author advocates a shift in our understanding of the subject, of language, and of moral responsibility. Based on these shifts a new notion of moral responsibility is articulated that is not focused on guilt and that can help white students understand and acknowledge their white complicity.
Aristotle. 2003. The Nichomachean ethics. Translated by J. A. K. Thomson. Introduction by J. Barnes. New York: Penguin.
Widely considered Aristotle’s best known work on ethics, this book plays a preeminent role in defining Aristotelian ethics. He believed that the pursuit of eudemonia (e.g., happiness or good spirit) was the ultimate goal to live a happy life, and also necessary for the perfect polis (the city to which Socrates was dedicated).
Brooks, J. S., and A. H. Normore. 2005. An Aristotelian framework for the development of ethical leadership. Values and Ethics in Educational Administration 3.2: 1–10.
The authors describe an approach to the teaching of ethics to one subset of educators, namely prospective educational administrators, which may prompt them as practitioners to readily understand the value of an ethical orientation in their leadership practice. By focusing on Aristotle’s principles of character, emotion, and logic, a framework of moral leadership is introduced.
Burant, T. J., S. M. Chubbuck, and J. L. Whipp. 2007. Reclaiming the moral in the dispositions debate. Journal of Teacher Education 58.5: 397–411.
This article suggests that teacher preparation and practice must put the study or morality at the center of scholarly conversations about teacher dispositions. Removing the moral aspects of dispositions and looking at them only as technically oriented is problematic in the teacher-student relationship.
Cloutier, C. J. 2013. The consciousness quotient: Leadership and social justice for the 21st century. Maple Ridge, BC: HeartStone.
Using a transnational multipronged approach to research, The Consciousness Quotient provides a critical understanding of leadership as a phenomenon that affects ethics, morality, and social justice. Brain functionality, leadership practices, and legitimacy of decisions are among the major themes discussed.
Dotgers, B. H., and G. T. Theoharis. 2010. From disposition to action: Bridging moral/ethical reasoning and social justice leadership. Values and Ethics in Educational Administration 6.3: 1–8.
A call for action suggests that school leaders address issues of equity and justice in the midst of a growing sociocultural diversity within schools. The authors focus on issues of race, disabilities, English language learners, low socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation, among others, by examining social justice leadership with the research base on moral/ethical reasoning.
Fried, J. 2010. Ethical standards and principles. In Student services: A handbook for the profession. 5th ed. Edited by J. H. Schuh, S. R. Jones, and S. R. Harper, 107–127. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Fried examines and reviews ethical standards and principles in higher education. The chapter provides both a review of basic ethical principles and a consideration of their application in various higher education contexts.
Noddings, N. 2002. Educating moral people: A caring alternative to character education. New York: Teachers College.
Noddings proposes an ethic of care as the basis upon which all moral education should take place. Central to this ethic of care is open-ended dialogue and discussion. In the collection of essays, classroom and controversial issues in education are covered. Noddings describes the similarities and differences between character education and care ethics and suggests ways to embed moral education throughout the curriculum.
Normore, A. H., and J. S. Brooks. 2014. Educational leadership for ethics and social justice: Views from the social sciences. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.
This edited book includes a collection of essays that examine how leadership for ethics and social justice is conceptualized in the applied sciences in a way that educational leadership programs might help improve the preparation and practice of school leaders. By adopting this approach, leaders connect and extend long-established lines of conceptual and empirical inquiry and thereby gain insights that may otherwise be overlooked or assumed.
Palmer, P. 1998. The courage to teach: Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
A reflective analysis of the way that ethics and morals undergird the act of teaching. The author reflects on his own experience as an instructor and draws relevant examples from research and practice to illustrate key points related to moral clarity and dilemmas.
Shapiro, J., and J. A. Stefkovich. 2011. Ethical leadership and decision making in education: Applying theoretical perspectives to complex dilemmas. 3d ed. New York: Taylor and Francis.
Through discourse and instructional analysis of real-life moral dilemmas, Shapiro and Stefkovich demonstrate the application of their four ethical paradigms—the ethics of justice, care, critique, and profession. The book is a valuable resource for analyzing professional and personal codes of ethics and should be in every school leader’s library.
Starratt, R. 2004. Ethical leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
In this must-read book Starratt calls on every educational leader to become an ethical leader of learners by morally committing to three essential virtues: proactive responsibility; personal and professional authenticity; and an affirming, critical, and enabling presence to the workers and the work involved in teaching and learning.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- Academic Achievement
- Academic Audit for Universities
- Academic Freedom and Tenure in the United States
- Action Research in Education
- Adjuncts in Higher Education in the United States
- Administrator Preparation
- Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Courses
- African American Racial Identity and Learning
- Alaska Native Education
- Alternative Certification Programs for Educators
- Alternative Schools
- American Indian Education
- Art Education
- Assessing School Leader Effectiveness
- Assessment, Behavioral
- Assessment, Educational
- Assessment in Early Childhood Education
- Athletics, College
- Augmented Reality in Education
- Beginning-Teacher Induction
- Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
- Blended Learning
- Case Study in Education Research
- Changing Professional and Academic Identities
- Character Education
- Children’s and Young Adult Literature
- Children's Beliefs about Intelligence
- Children's Rights in Early Childhood Education
- Civic and Social Engagement of Higher Education
- Classroom Management
- College Admissions in the United States
- Community Relations
- Comparative Education
- Computer-Based Testing
- Continuous Improvement and "High Leverage" Educational Pro...
- Counseling in Schools
- Critical Perspectives on Educational Innovation and Improv...
- Critical Race Theory
- Crossborder and Transnational Higher Education
- Cross-National Research on Continuous Improvement
- Cross-Sector Research on Continuous Learning and Improveme...
- Culturally Responsive Leadership
- Culturally Responsive Pedagogies
- Culturally Responsive Teacher Education in the United Stat...
- Curriculum Design
- Data Collection in Educational Research
- Data-driven Decision Making in the United States
- Deaf Education
- Desegregation and Integration
- Development, Moral
- Digital Age Teacher, The
- Digital Divides
- Distance Learning
- Distributed Leadership
- Doctoral Education and Training
- Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Denmark
- Early Childhood Education and Development in Mexico
- Early Childhood Education in Australia
- Early Childhood Education in China
- Early Childhood Education in Europe
- Early Childhood Education in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Early Childhood Education in Sweden
- Early Childhood Education Pedagogy
- Early Childhood Education Policy
- Early Childhood Education, The Arts in
- Early Childhood Mathematics
- Early Childhood Science
- Early Childhood Teacher Education
- Early Childhood Teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand
- Early Years Professionalism and Professionalization Polici...
- Economics of Education
- Education For Children with Autism
- Education Leadership, Empirical Perspectives in
- Education of Native Hawaiian Students
- Education Reform and School Change
- Educational Statistics for Longitudinal Research
- Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
- Epistemic Beliefs
- Equity and Improvement: Engaging Communities in Educationa...
- Equity, Ethnicity, Diversity, and Excellence in Education
- Ethics and Education
- Ethics of Teaching
- Ethnic Studies
- Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention
- Family and Community Partnerships in Education
- Family Day Care
- Federal Government Programs and Issues
- Finance, Education
- Financial Aid
- Formative Assessment
- Gender and Achievement
- Gifted Education
- Global Mindedness and Global Citizenship Education
- Global University Rankings
- Governance, Education
- Grounded Theory
- Growth of Effective Mental Health Services in Schools in t...
- Higher Education and Globalization
- Higher Education and the Developing World
- Higher Education Faculty Characteristics and Trends in the...
- Higher Education Governance
- Higher Education Graduate Outcomes and Destinations
- Higher Education in Africa
- Higher Education in China
- Higher Education in Latin America
- Higher Education in the United States, Historical Evolutio...
- Higher Education, International Issues in
- Higher Education Management
- Higher Education Policy
- Higher Education Research
- Higher Education Student Assessment
- High-stakes Testing
- History of Education in the United States
- Inclusive Education
- Indigenous Education in a Global Context
- Indigenous Students in Higher Education in the United Stat...
- Inservice Teacher Education
- Integrating Art across the Curriculum
- Intensive Interventions for Children and Adolescents with ...
- Intersectionality and Education
- Knowledge Development in Early Childhood
- Leadership Development, Coaching and Feedback for
- Leadership Training with an Emphasis on the United States
- Learning Difficulties
- Learning, Lifelong
- Learning, Multimedia
- Learning Strategies
- Legal Matters and Education Law
- LGBT Youth in Schools
- Linguistic Diversity
- Linguistically Inclusive Pedagogy
- Literacy Development and Language Acquisition
- Literacy, Multiple Documents
- Literature Reviews
- Mathematics Instruction and Interventions for Students wit...
- Mathematics Teacher Education
- Measurement for Improvement in Education
- Measurement in Education in the United States
- Meta-Analysis and Research Synthesis in Education
- Methodological Approaches for Impact Evaluation in Educati...
- Methodologies for Conducting Education Research
- Mindfulness, Learning, and Education
- Mixed Methods Research
- Multivariate Research Methodology
- Museums, Education, and Curriculum
- Music Education
- Narrative Research in Education
- Native American Studies
- Numeracy Education
- Online Education
- Organizing for Continuous Improvement in Education
- Organizing Schools for the Inclusion of Students with Disa...
- Pedagogy of Teacher Education, A
- Performance Objectives and Measurement
- Performance-based Research Assessment in Higher Education
- Performance-based Research Funding
- Phenomenology in Educational Research
- Philosophy of Education
- Physical Education
- Podcasts in Education
- Policy Context of United States Educational Innovation and...
- Politics of Education
- Portable Technology for Special Education
- Pre-Service Teacher Education
- Problem Solving
- Productivity and Higher Education
- Professional Development
- Professional Learning Communities
- Program Evaluation
- Programs and Services for Students with Emotional or Behav...
- Psychology Learning and Teaching
- Psychometric Issues in the Assessment of English Language ...
- Qualitative Data Analysis Techniques
- Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Research Samp...
- Qualitative Research Design
- Quantitative Research Designs in Educational Research
- Race and Affirmative Action in Higher Education
- Reading Education
- Refugee and New Immigrant Learners
- Reliability in Educational Assessments
- Religion in Elementary and Secondary Education in the Unit...
- Researcher Development and Skills Training within the Cont...
- Response to Intervention
- Restorative Practices
- Scale and Sustainability of Education Innovation and Impro...
- Scaling Up Research-based Educational Practices
- School Accreditation
- School Choice
- School Culture
- School District Budgeting and Financial Management in the ...
- School Improvement through Inclusive Education
- School Reform
- Schools, Private and Independent
- School-Wide Positive Behavior Support
- Science Education
- Secondary to Postsecondary Transition Issues
- Self-Regulated Learning
- Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices
- Severe Disabilities
- Single Salary Schedule
- Single-sex Education
- Single-Subject Research Design
- Social Context of Education
- Social Justice
- Social Network Analysis
- Social Pedagogy
- Social Science and Education Research
- Social Studies Education
- Sociology of Education
- Standards-Based Education
- Statistical Assumptions
- Student Access, Equity, and Diversity in Higher Education
- Student Assignment Policy
- Student Engagement in Tertiary Education
- Student Learning, Development, Engagement, and Motivation ...
- Student Participation
- Student Voice in Teacher Development
- Teacher Collaboration in School Improvement
- Teacher Evaluation and Teacher Effectiveness
- Teacher Preparation
- Teacher Training and Development
- Teacher Unions and Associations
- Teacher-Student Relationships
- Teaching Critical Thinking
- Technologies, Teaching, and Learning in Higher Education
- Technology Education in Early Childhood
- Technology, Educational
- Technology-based Assessment
- The Bologna Process
- The Regulation of Standards in Higher Education
- Theories of Educational Leadership
- Three Conceptions of Literacy: Media, Narrative, and Gamin...
- Tracking and Detracking
- Traditions of Quality Improvement in Education
- Transitions in Early Childhood Education
- Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities in the Unite...
- University Faculty Roles and Responsibilities in the Unite...
- Using Ethnography in Educational Research
- Value of Higher Education for Students and Other Stakehold...
- Vocational and Technical Education
- Wellness and Well-Being in Education
- Women's and Gender Studies