Distribution, Recognition, Representation and Contribution - Social Justice at Micro and Macro Levels in Alternative Education Programs

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Martin MILLS, University of Queensland, Australia
Kitty TE RIELE, Victoria University, Australia
Debra HAYES, University of Sydney, Australia
Glenda MCGREGOR, Griffith University, Australia
Aspa BAROUTSIS, University of Queensland, Australia
Injustice and inequality are thrown into sharp relief when examining the experiences of young people who are disenfranchised from the right to an education. In Australia, where (in common with most developed countries) completion of upper secondary education has become the new minimum standard, young people who do not complete school are squarely in that disenfranchised group. At the micro-level, this paper analyses these young people’s experiences of (in)justice. At the macro-level, we examine (in)justice from the viewpoint of the alternative education programs (AEPs) that provide educational opportunities for these students – and which themselves are located at the margins of the education system.

Our analytical lens combines Fraser’s framework of distribution, recognition and representation with Sayer’s notion of contributive justice. Distribution focuses on the economic dimension of justice: e.g. providing breakfast and transport subsidies for students (at micro level) and funding and sustainability of AEPs at macro level). Recognition addresses the cultural dimension and involves valuing of differences: recognising young people’s strengths (micro) as well as the strengths and innovations of AEPs (macro). Representation, the political dimension, requires that people have the opportunity to make representations on matters that impact on them: enabling ‘youth voice’ and ‘agency’ (micro) and input from AEPs into policy decisions (macro). Finally, we adopt Sayer’s qualitative understanding of ‘contributive justice’ and its relationship to ‘meaningful work’: relevance and authenticity of the curriculum (micro) and the role AEPs are expected and enabled to play in the education of young Australians (macro).

These two sets of analyses draw attention to the multiple injustices associated with disenfranchisement from schooling and the disruption of a young person’s education trajectory. While AEPs provide the context for our research, the paper examines the implications for traditional schools and how they might better meet the diverse needs of young people.