Wednesday, October 4, 2017 – 10:00 a.m.
Neville Scarfe, Room 278
Supervisor: Jennifer Vadeboncoeur (HDLC)
Supervisory Committee: Barbara Weber (HDLC) and Theresa Rogers (LLED)
Title: Exploring Definitions of Social Justice: A Qualitative Study of Moral Dialogues with University Students
This qualitative research built upon a sociocultural approach to moral functioning to examine how six university students living in Vancouver defined social justice. Two research questions guided this study: 1) How do participants define social justice? and 2) How do they perceive their definitions of social justice are informed by their cultural background? Six semi-structured interviews were conducted to collect the data, during which the participants engaged in moral narratives that drew upon their past experiences, events from their sociocultural contexts and a fictitious narrative provided by the researcher. Through moral narratives, therefore, the participants crafted their definitions of social justice, defined as conceptual systems mediating the participants’ moral actions (e.g., reflection, dialogue, imagination, and creativity, among others). Using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis, three main themes were identified across the data: 1) equality and non-discrimination as core aspects defining the participants’ definitions of social justice, 2) pathways from social injustice toward social justice, and 3) self-identification within a diverse community. Participants not only defined social justice but expanded their inner moral dialogue, allowing them to reconstruct their past experiences and imagine possible social justice futures. These findings are potentially relevant: 1) to the literature on moral development; and 2) to intercultural educational curricula and pedagogy.