Date of Award

Fall 2020

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy and Leadership

First Advisor

Chubbuck, Sharon

Second Advisor

LaBelle, Jeffery

Third Advisor

Eckman, Ellen


Education philosophers and researchers often assert that the term “social justice” (SJ) is ubiquitous, yet vague, in education and teacher education programs. Furthermore, academics assert that teachers and teacher education programs do not ground educational theories of social justice within a broader philosophical framework of SJ. This practice, or lack of, is problematic. Even with the best of intentions, without a clear framework for SJ, teachers can inadvertently perpetuate injustice and inequality in their practice. Education academics also often assert that teacher understanding of SJ is atheoretical. This research responds to that assertion and argues that while teachers may not articulate a formal theory of SJ, their conceptions and practices are consistent with Nancy Fraser’s framework of SJ. Using qualitative research methods and analysis, this research seeks to understand how five secondary school teachers conceptualize and enact SJ and social justice in education (SJE). It also explores professional and personal experiences that have helped inform their conceptions. Suggestions for teacher preparation programs to better prepare teacher candidates in SJ theory and practice are included. Keywords: social justice, social justice in education, definitions of social justice, theories of social justice, teacher preparation, secondary education.



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