07 SES 09 B, Social Justice
This abstract aims to present the theoretical part of a broader, on-going, interdisciplinary research program. Within this research, training and intervention project, undertaken by the Department of Human Sciences for Education “R. Massa” (University of Milano-Bicocca) in 2018 under the title ‘Education for Social Justice’, we understand our work as a key contribution to the still relatively new line of investigation focusing on the possible virtuous relationships between children rights studies and the Capabilities Approach (Biggeri, Ballet, Comim, 2011; Nussbaum & Dixon, 2012; Stoecklin & Bonvin, 2014). In our perspective, this is a crucial task that will serve the urgent purpose of reducing the risk of leaving children’s real lives in the shade for the benefit of a generalization of childhood as conceptual category.
As suggested by its title, the overall project invests education of a primary role in building the conditions for children to act as protagonists in the development of a fairer and just society.
Still far from having been realized in our risky and unstable world, such a just society should allow everyone – children and young people included – to actually do and be what they potentially could do and be. Certainly, the cultural, scientific and social investment in childhood that characterized the last century (to the point of making it known as ‘the century of the child’) prepared the path to the important goal of the UNCRC. However, the increasing social inequality and the persisting phenomena of violence or marginalization, of which too many children are still victims, show how the effective protection of childhood has evolved in uneven way, leading to a substantial failure and unfair treatments. In actual fact, the gap between what is said within the international debate on the institutional level and the current conditions children and young people live remains too wide: the formal recognition of rights is not enough to guarantee their real enjoyment (Biffi, 2018).
The objectives of the Agenda 2030 for the United Nations Sustainable Development, instead, underlie the real possibilities of life of citizens, along with their formal rights. In doing so, they refer to the Capability Approach elaborated by Amartya Sen (1999, 2009) and further deepened by Martha Nussbaum (2011), who both conceive development as expansion of one’s freedom. In this perspective, human rights – as well as democracy and economic growth – are thought as instrumental to the final goal of human development (Hammarberg, 2008).
Constituting the basis of a comprehensive theory of social justice which involves also the so-called ‘non-productive subjects’, this vision engages stakeholders to act in collaborative partnerships and recognizes the task of education in the promotion of life conditions that allow people to realize their existential design.
Overall, the methodology of the whole research is premised upon a close connection between theoretical elaboration and empirical research. Such an approach benefits from the involvement in the project of researchers from different disciplines, ranging from pedagogy to psychology, from philosophy to anthropology and geography. For what concerns the specific theoretical aspect, the Capability Approach (or Human Development Approach) is a valid point of departure to interrogate the gap between legal (declared) rights and their real exercise, offering a view of Social Justice that insists on the actual possibility of agents to pursue their goals, and their capacity to convert certain resources (for instance, rights) into concrete processes of choice and deliberation, or valuable functionings (Sen, 2009; Pogge, 2010). As such, it represents a fruitful framework to analyse the way in which certain rights, whilst being granted at an abstract (i.e., legislative) level, cannot be implemented due to the absence of certain structural conditions. However, this approach and its connections with the effective exercise of rights have only recently and partially started to be considered and theoretically investigated in relation to the specificities of the infantile and adolescent conditions. Therefore, after completing a literature review on the different philosophical perspectives on social justice, the most recent results in the fields of CA (Brooks, 2017) and children’s rights studies (Vandenhole, Desmet, Reynaert, Lembrechts, 2015; Ruck, Peterson-Badali, Freeman, 2016) and the educational and philosophical conceptions of childhood (Gheaus, Calder, De Wispelaere, 2018), we aim to contribute to the advancement of a quite innovative theoretical processing which goes beyond the disciplinary fences.
We expect to proceed to the elaboration of a more comprehensive theory of social justice. The project, in fact, 1) will significantly expand the range of application of the Capability Approach to children and young people, thus contributing to a new, recent trend in the CA, which is at its beginnings. In turn, 2) this will enable us to interrogate the cogency of the Capability Approach as a theory of Social Justice once it is applied to a domain (childhood) which originally was not its primary focus. A strong link with the empirical educational dimension will help us making theoretical review and traditional speculation really close to the needs of the common life of children. According to this perspective, we also count on the chance to develop further the strand of the ‘renewed philosophical practices’ and the biographical philosophy (Màdera & Tarca, 2007) – which recovers Pierre Hadot’s concept of philosophy as a fair, conscious and flourishing way of life (1995) and offers it to the contemporary adulthood – adapting it for children and innovating, this way, the whole panorama of the philosophical practices for the youngest.
●Biffi E. (2018). What can a child do and be today? Pedagogical reflections on children’s contribution to contemporary society. Pedagogia Oggi, XVI (2): 205-225. ●Biggeri M., Ballet J., Comim F. (Eds.) (2011). Children and the Capability Approach. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ●Brooks T. (2017). Justice and the Capabilities Approach. London: Routledge. ●Gheaus A., Calder G., De Wispelaere J. (Eds.) (2018). The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Childhood and Children. London: Routledge. ●Hadot P. (1995). Philosophy as a Way of Life. Oxford: Blackwell. ●Hammarberg T. (2008). ‘No real development without human rights’. Lecture on the inter-relationship between development and human rights when implementing the UN Millenium Development Goals, Trinity College, Dublin, 3 April 2008. ●Màdera R. & Tarca L. V. (2007). Philosophy as Life Path. Milan: Ipoc. ●Nussbaum M. (2011). Creating capabilities: The human development approach. Harvard: Harvard University Press. ●Nussbaum M. & Dixon R. (2012). Children’s Rights and a Capabilities Approach: The Question of Special Priority. Public Law and Legal Theory Working Paper No. 384. Chicago (IL): University of Chicago Law School. ●Pogge T. (2010). ‘A Critique of the Capability Approach’. In H. Brighouse & I. Robeyns (Eds.) (2010). Measuring Justice. Primary goods and capabilities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ●Ruck M. D., Peterson Badali M., Freeman M. (Eds.) (2016). Handbook of Children’s Rights. Global and Multidisciplinary Perspectives. New York: Routledge. ●Sen A. K. (1999). Development as Freedom. New York: Oxford University Press. ●Sen A. K. (2009). The idea of justice. London: Allen Lane. ●Stoecklin D. & Bonvin J. M. (Eds.) (2014). Children’s Rights and the Capability Approach. Challenges and Prospects. Dordrecht: Springer. ●Vandenhole W., Desmet E., Reynaert D., Lembrechts S. (Eds.) (2015). The Routledge International Handbook of Children’s Right Studies. London: Taylor & Francis.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.