Framing Social Justice in Education: What Does the 'Capabilities' Approach Offer?

British Journal of Educational Studies 51 (2):168 - 187 (2003)
This paper develops a framework for conceptualising social justice in education, drawing particularly on Martha Nussbaum's (2000) capabilities approach. The practical case for consideration is that of widening participation and pedagogical implications in higher (university) education in England. While the paper supports the value and usefulness of Nussbaum's list of ten capabilities for developing a more radical and challenging language and practice for higher education pedagogies, it also argues that her approach is limited. Other ways of conceptualising social justice are also required in order to develop adjudicating theories which enable us to judge which practices take us closer to social justice. An argument is made for 'bivalent' theorising which integrates individual and institutional development and agents and social structures.
Keywords social justice  higher education  capabilities
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