New Arrivals: Participatory Action Research, Imagined Communities, and "Visions" of Social Justice

By O'Neill, Maggie; Woods, Philip A. et al. | Social Justice, Spring 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

New Arrivals: Participatory Action Research, Imagined Communities, and "Visions" of Social Justice

O'Neill, Maggie, Woods, Philip A., Webster, Mark, Social Justice

THIS ARTICLE EXPLORES THEMES OF SOCIAL JUSTICE IN RELATION TO GLOBAL REFUGEES and the asylum-migration nexus by drawing upon a participatory action research (PAR) project recently completed in the United Kingdom (U.K.). The research sought to explore and address the needs of newly arrived children and families to the education system in a city in England. In the article, we affirm that a holistic conception of justice is of crucial importance to understanding and promoting social integration within the complex dynamics of the asylum-migration nexus as they affect urban environments. Moreover, we suggest that PAR as a research methodology can address a more holistic model of social justice and avoid some of the potential inequalities in the researcher/participant relationship. Patterns of problematic and positive aspects of the experience of newly arrived families are analyzed in terms of three interlinking models of social justice.

What Do We Understand by Social Justice?

Three forms of social justice are neatly summarized by Cribb and Gewirtz (2003), drawing upon but extending models developed by Nancy Fraser and Iris Marion Young:

* Distributive justice, which includes concerns about what Fraser calls economic justice and is defined as the absence of exploitation, economic marginalization, and deprivation;

* Cultural justice, defined (by Fraser) as the absence of cultural domination, non-recognition, and disrespect;

* Associational justice, defined as the absence of "patterns of association amongst individuals and amongst groups which prevent some people from participating fully in decisions which affect the conditions within which they live and act" (Power and Gewirtz, 2001: 41, quoted in Cribb and Gewirtz, 2003: 19).

From a community development perspective, social justice:

   is about building active and sustainable communities based on
   social justice and mutual respect. It is about changing power
   structures to remove the barriers that prevent people from
   participating in the issues that affect their lives ... [and]
   enabling people to claim their human rights, meet their needs,
   and have greater control over the decision-making processes
   which affect their lives (see

This community development perspective encompasses associational justice. Its references to enabling people to meet their needs also highlight the importance of distributive justice. Analysis of the social and critical theory literature throws up approaches to social justice that coalesce around philosophical analysis and empirical enquiry, equalities of opportunity, and social justice through pedagogy (Applebaum, 2004), as well as discourses around rights, redistribution, and recognition (Bauman, 2001; Fraser, 1997), and the fabric of modernity, postmodernity, and liquid modernity. Hence, this critical theory perspective embraces cultural justice (issues of recognition) and distributive justice (equality of opportunity, redistribution). A more complete view of social justice needs to appreciate the importance and interrelation of each of the three models highlighted by Cribb and Gewirtz to provide a sophisticated conceptual framework for understanding and advancing social justice.

In late modernity, the problem of social disintegration and division that can result from a more diverse, multicultural society becomes particularly acute. Giddens (1994: 126) describes the danger as one of returning to "cultural segmentalism," in which local communities "function through exclusion, a differentiating of insiders and outsiders." It raises, in new forms, the longstanding sociological issue posed by modernity, that of solidarity. For Bauman (2001: 74), the vision of a final, just society, which characterized earlier modernity, gives way to a "'human rights' rule/standard/measure meant instead to guide the never-ending experimentation with satisfactory, or at least acceptable, forms of cohabitation.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

New Arrivals: Participatory Action Research, Imagined Communities, and "Visions" of Social Justice


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?