Educational Research for Social Justice: Getting off the Fence

By Morwenna Griffiths | Go to book overview
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6: Educational research for social
justice: a framework

Defining and understanding social justice

In this chapter, even more than Chapter 5,1 'get off the fence', taking a position on the nature of social justice and on educational research for social justice. In the book as a whole, I have been drawing on my own research and practice over a decade and more (as I explained in Chapter 1). In all that research I was indebted to others for their help and ideas - whether it could be called 'joint' research or not. However, this chapter is very much the product of collaborative research, the research into social justice that I described in Chapter 2. In particular, the next section is the result of collaboration in that research project, and I need to acknowledge my coresearchers and give due weight to the contribution of the rest of the group who made it - who are continuing to make it. I say 'continuing to make' because the version used in this book is a snapshot of a developing process. The use I make of the project is my responsibility, but I am not the sole author of it. That is, it arose as a result of collaboration, but not all the participants would agree with all that I say about it, or the use I make of it.1

I have not yet explained in any detail what I mean by social justice. Instead, I have worked from examples and relied on the common understandings of the term to be clear enough for my purposes. In addition, in Chapter 1 (pages 12-13), I stated three principles of social justice, very briefly. The time has come to look at the idea more directly. First, I look at my choice of the term 'social justice'. Why do I not, for instance, talk about 'equality issues' or 'equal opportunities'? Or, indeed, why do I not avoid these terms by being specific and naming the particular source of injustice, using terms like feminism, anti-racism, social class, sexuality or some combinations of these (like Patricia Hill Collins's 'black feminist')? Why do I prefer to work with the term 'social justice', a term which has not been as widely used as 'equal opportunities', 'feminism' or 'anti-racism'?

One reason for choosing the term 'social justice' is precisely because it has

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