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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring definitions of social justice : a qualitative study of moral dialogues with university students Monestel Mora, Natacha


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 their moral actions (e.g., reflection, dialogue, imagination, and creativity, among others). Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis, three main themes were identified across the data: 1) equality and non-discrimination as core aspects defining social justice, 2) pathways from social injustice toward social justice, and 3) authoring themselves through moral dialogues. 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.

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