Problematizing the Social in Social Justice Education

  • Duncan WaiteEmail author
  • Khalid Arar
Living reference work entry


The term “social justice” has been the subject of much scholastic debate, but there is still no clear consensus on its definition, and it is interpreted in many different ways. This lack of consensus also exists when discussing social justice in the field of education in general and particularly in schools. With this in mind, we consider globally-differentiated practices as an integral part in promoting social justice in different contexts. Moreover, we invoke critical discourse and consider the following questions: “Why do the educational systems in transitional and previously underrepresented areas need to move in the direction of Western countries?” “Are educational leaders in these areas not entitled to their own constructions of leadership for social justice?”

This chapter proffers a critical reflection on our thinking about social justice in education and how our thinking influences our practice. Noting the complexity and fluidity of the term social justice and how it may be embraced, taken up or realized differently in different contexts, we share some of our experience(s) and how these inform our approach here. This includes acknowledging our points of departure, some touchstones of our experience, and how these enable a critical but constructive discussion of the concept of social justice. Despite our varied backgrounds and experiences, one point on which we agree – and the thrust of this chapter – is that the concepts of “the social” and “culture,” even or perhaps especially in their mundane, common usage, are problematic and can get us into trouble, such that it is hard to extricate ourselves and those for whom we are responsible as leaders, scholars, and activists. Points discussed broadly in the chapter and which we attempt to envisage include the promotion of social justice education within The Imperium in the context of the formation of complex, multiethnic, and multicultural states and the ethical issues and challenges that face educational leaders in the implementation of an agenda of social justice.


Social justice Multicultural states Social justice leadership Educational leadership for social justice Culture The Social 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Education and Community LeadershipTexas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA
  2. 2.JaljuliaIsrael

Section editors and affiliations

  • Fenwick W. English
    • 1
  1. 1.Ball State UniversityMuncieUSA

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