Equal in what and how?: A review of the proposals from the theory of justice to the field of education

Alejandro Montes, Lluís Parcerisa

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2 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. All rights reserved. This article reviews the application of the main theories of justice to the field of education. First, the main contributions of social normative theory to the field of educational policy are examined, emphasizing those positions that have historically dominated this field: meritocracy and Rawl’s theory of justice. Secondly, the limitations and main criticisms of both are examined. Finally, the contributions of new perspectives focusing on dimensions overlooked until now - what we call "postdistributive justice" - that complement the above theories are presented. This paper aims to systematize the different approaches that have existed and exist in the field of theory of social justice in education, their implications in terms of equality and equity, and the normative criteria arising from them, which must be considered when designing and evaluating educational policies that seek to address inequalities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-471
JournalPapers: Revista de Sociologia
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Distributive justice
  • Education policy
  • Educational equity
  • Equal opportunities
  • Normative theories
  • Recognition policies
  • Representation policies
  • Theories of justice


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