Social Justice Research

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 26–49

“Not So Much As Place to Lay Our Head...”: Moral Inclusion and Exclusion in the American Civil War Reconstruction


DOI: 10.1007/s11211-007-0061-9

Cite this article as:
Opotow, S. Soc Just Res (2008) 21: 26. doi:10.1007/s11211-007-0061-9


A war’s end can prompt societal change. This article examines inclusionary justice in the post-war period, when societies have the opportunity to change in ways that include formerly disadvantaged groups within the scope of justice. Using historical material on the Reconstruction after the American Civil War, this theory-generating article examines the post-war inclusionary trajectory for enslaved people who were emancipated as a result of the war. After briefly describing the Civil War, the article discusses four points along an inclusionary/exclusionary continuum of the Reconstruction: self-inclusion, instrumental inclusion, obstructed inclusion, and institutionalized exclusion. The article then looks at after-effects of the Reconstruction at two points in time: the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision and the hardships after Hurricane Katrina in 2006. The article concludes with lessons from the Reconstruction for a psychology of inclusionary justice, including the multidimensionality, difficulty, and urgency of changing the status quo, the importance of including missing voices, and the challenges of studying inclusionary change. It argues that moral inclusion needs to occur in political, legal, economic, and social spheres of society if it is to be sustained.



Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.John Jay College of Criminal Justice City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyJohn Jay College of Criminal Justice New YorkUSA