18 SES 14, Researching Social Justice and Health (in)Equality across different School Health and Physical Education Contexts
Based on experiences from the initial year of the EDUHEALTH-project, including a challenge by the discussant Professor Standal during our ECER symposium in 2017 to further explicate our (theoretical) understanding of social justice, this paper addresses ways of conceptualising social justice in relation to school health and physical education (HPE). Broadly, we conceptualise the term social justice in relation to equity and take inspiration from Bell’s (1997) concept of social justice as both a process and a goal, with an emphasis on the latter. In this paper, we will discuss different theoretical perspectives that we consider both relevant and potentially useful in relation to understanding and subsequently analysing pedagogies for social justice in HPE practice, as informed by the works of Habermas, Bourdieu, Foucault and Uljens. Habermas’ (1999) model for communicative action is built on solidarity and non-hierarchical relations where the participants share a mutual understanding. The most relevant concepts from Habermas related to the EDUHEALTH-project and social justice are power to set education in action, the moral problems based on finding fair solutions and solidarity as communicating on equal terms. Bourdieu’s (1990) theories offers the possibility to analyse hidden or taken-for-granted power relations as related to social justice. More specifically, Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, capital, doxa provides an appropriate frame for understanding how inequalities are reproduced in a specific social context such as school HPE. Foucault’s (2000) work with his particular emphasis on how power functions in our society rather than the location of power, provides an analytical framework for understanding the effect of HPE practices on student subjectivities as shaped by discourse and the workings of power. A Foucauldian analysis can help us better understand how certain discursive practices in HPE have the potential of transforming rather than reproducing inequitable power relations and outcomes for the students in this school subject. Uljens (1997, 2015) state that social justice is about focusing on transforming society through non-affirmative education; problematizing established norms, practices, and knowledge. As well as non-hierarchical education; understanding education as situated neither solely inside, nor outside of, society, “but attempts to mediate between the two” (Uljens, 2015: 27). The intention of presenting and discussing these various theoretical perspectives is to be challenged by both the discussant and others present at the symposium as to which perspective(s) that will provide the most relevant new knowledge for both researchers and practitioners in the field of HPE.
Bell, L A (1997) Theoretical foundations for social justice education. In M. Adams, L. Bell and P. Griffin (Eds), Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook New York: Routledge, (pp 3-15). Bourdieu, P (1990) The Logic of Practise. Cambridge: Polity Press Bourdieu, P & Passeron, JC (2008) Reproduktionen. Bidrag till en teori om utbildningssystemet. Lund: Arkiv Foucault, M (2000) Power: Essential works of Foucault, 1954-1984, Volume 3. London: Penguin. Habermas, J (1999) Kraften i de bedre argumenter [The power in the better arguments]. In R. Kalleberg (Ed.), (pp. 65-79). Oslo: Ad notam Gyldendal. Uljens, M (1997) School Didactics and Learning. Hove: Psychology Press. Uljens, M (2015) Curriculum work as educational leadership – paradoxes and theoretical foundations, Nordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policy, 1, 22–30.
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