, Volume 49, Issue 1-2, pp 1-21
Date: 04 Jun 2011

Wellness as Fairness

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Abstract

I argue that distinct conditions of justice lead to diverse wellness outcomes through a series of psychosocial processes. Optimal conditions of justice, suboptimal conditions of justice, vulnerable conditions of injustice, and persisting conditions of injustice lead to thriving, coping, confronting, and suffering, respectively. The processes that mediate between optimal conditions of justice and thriving include the promotion of responsive conditions, the prevention of threats, individual pursuit, and avoidance of comparisons. The mechanisms that mediate between suboptimal conditions of justice and coping include resilience, adaptation, compensation, and downward comparisons. Critical experiences, critical consciousness, critical action, and righteous comparisons mediate between vulnerable conditions of injustice and confrontation with the system. Oppression, internalization, helplessness, and upward comparisons mediate between persisting conditions of injustice and suffering. These psychosocial processes operate within and across personal, interpersonal, organizational and community contexts. Different types of justice are hypothesized to influence well-being within each context. Intrapersonal injustice operates at the personal level, whereas distributive, procedural, relational, and developmental justice impact interpersonal well-being. At the organizational level, distributive, procedural, relational and informational justice influence well-being. Finally, at the community level, distributive, procedural, retributive, and cultural justice support community wellness. Data from a variety of sources support the suggested connections between justice and well-being.

This article was originally presented as a Distinguished Contribution to Theory and Research award address at the Biennial Conference of the Society for Community Research and Action, Division of Community Psychology of the American Psychological Association, in Chicago in June 2011.