Social Justice, Education, and Identity

By Carol Vincent | Go to book overview

Introduction
Carol VincentThis book is a collection of writings on the theme of social justice, education and identity by researchers who are members of the British Educational Research Association's (BERA) Special Interest Group (SIG) in Social Justice. The authors seek to theorise the concept of social justice, inquire into its presence or absence in various sites and explore how the education system, through its organisation and practices, is implicated in the realisation of just or unjust social outcomes (Dehli 2002, personal communication). A particular theme is how the identities of individuals and groups are formed and transformed in schools, colleges and universities.These are the kind of concerns that have sustained the SIG since its inception. I convened the group-a loose network of researchers and practitioners with a theoretical and practical interest in social justice-in 1997. The impetus, a very sad one, was the untimely death of Professor Barry Troyna from cancer the previous year. Barry had written extensively on race and education, and also on methodology. Questions of social justice were always to the fore in his work, and we hoped that the SIG would provide a forum in which to carry forward the issues which were of concern to him. The original rationale for the SIG set out the following aims:
• To focus on the changing nature of the relationship between social justice and education in the light of the recent restructuring of the education system.
• To focus on the concept of social justice itself, and to ask with Harvey (1993) 'which theory of social justice is the most socially just'. What are the definitions of social justice which are useful to apply to a study of education?
• To consider the processes by which academic critique can or should influence political agendas.

The title of this book, the linking of social justice and identity, may need some explanation. Social justice has traditionally been discussed in economic terms. However, distributive justice, as it is often referred to, overlooks the cultural and relational aspects of social justice. In the 1970s and early 1980s, in the study of education and other social science disciplines, class-based analyses occupied a

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