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Rethinking Discussions of Justice in Educational Research: Formative Justice, Educational Liberalism, and Beyond


by Winston C. Thompson — 2016

Background/Context: Educational research tends to borrow accounts of justice from scholarship embedded within the structures and commitments of other disciplines or fields of study. This has created a body of educational research that largely responds to the “justice” goals of those disciplines rather than education qua education.

Purpose/Focus of Study: Responding to the context, this article questions whether educational research might be able to forward its own account of justice. This educational form of justice (formative justice) would allow educational researchers to pose questions that are primarily concerned with education on its own terms.

Research Design: This philosophical work provides a conceptual analysis of an account of justice within educational research.

Conclusions/Recommendations: This article finds that educational researchers can indeed pursue an educational account of justice. By detailing the benefits and general shape of a theory of educational justice (“justice as preservation”) embedded within educational liberalism, this article suggests that educational researchers can utilize their unique insights and expertise to pose educational questions within previously under-explored areas.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 118 Number 10, 2016, p. 1-16
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 21621, Date Accessed: 10/24/2017 1:59:51 AM

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About the Author
  • Winston Thompson
    University of New Hampshire
    E-mail Author
    WINSTON C. THOMPSON is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education and Affiliate Faculty in the Department of Philosophy at the University of New Hampshire. His scholarship focuses upon normative ethical and social/political questions of justice and the public good, including a current project detailing the relationship between education and politics.
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