The Justice/Morality Link

Implied, then Ignored, yet Inevitable
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


Few social psychologists who study justice would deny its roots in moral philosophy. Yet, explicit linkages between justice and morality have been relatively rare until recently. This chapter first examines how conceptualizations of justice and morality reveal common abstract characteristics. A description of the evolution of the study of justice in social psychology then provides a basis for understanding why the linkage was ignored for many years as scholars investigated distributive, procedural, and interactional justice processes largely from a “rational” perspective. Recent theoretical formulations, however, identify the pivotal roles of moral communities, moral emotions, and moral convictions, especially in analysis of justice situations involving potential harms to others. After reviewing bodies of research focused on moral emotions and observers’ responses to others’ injustices, we outline an agenda for research on the revitalized and inevitable justice/morality link that integrates motivational, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral processes.


Procedural Justice Distributive Justice Moral Community Moral Emotion Moral Conviction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank Steve Hitlin for his helpful feedback on this chapter. In addition, we are grateful to our colleagues Cathryn Johnson and Leslie Brody for their advice and encouragement.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA

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