Our next presentation & discussion Thursday 27 October: ‘Social Justice & Youth – Stability Interrupted’

The Network’s October presentation by one of our PhD members, Alan Mackie, is fast approaching, where he will share his initial findings on the lived experiences of young people experiencing poverty and inequality through the lens of social justice theory. We hope to see you and your friends there!

Social Justice & Youth — Stability Interrupted

A presentation and discussion by Alan Mackie, Phd Candidate in Education (Moray House)

Thursday, October 27th at 4:00 – 5:00 pm
Seminar Room 2, Chrystal Macmillan Building,
15 George Square, University of Edinburgh 

Young people, as a distinct social group, have been overlooked in the dominant theories and conceptualizations of social justice (Rawls 1971; Young 1990; Fraser 1997). Young people are experiencing generational inequalities in that their real wages are stagnating in comparison to older age groups, their access to social welfare is diminishing and fewer jobs with social protections are available – particularly for those leaving school with few formal qualifications (Côté and Bynner, 2008; Côté, 2014). In addition to these material inequalities, young people must also negotiate a politics of misrecognition in which they find themselves disparaged in popular media and in policy discourses where ‘non-participation’ in society is pathologised in terms such as ‘at-risk’ and ‘NEET’ (France, 2008; Simmons and Thompson, 2013).

The critical theorist Nancy Fraser (1996, 2005, 2008) offers us a conceptual framework through which to analyse young people’s inequalities and consider what their experiences mean for the ways in which theorists and practitioners think about social justice. Fraser’s critical framework seeks to analyse justice issues across three separate, but interwoven, spheres; the redistributive (economic), the recognitional (cultural) and the representational (political). Importantly, Fraser’s work hinges on a single normative principle – that of ‘participatory parity.’ Participatory parity is the standard by which we ask if members of society are able to interact with one another, in social life, as peers.

Alan’s presentation will examine some initial findings of his doctoral research exploring the experience of 25 young people, aged 16-24, living in an outer-urban area of a Scottish city in the grip of gentrification. In-depth, qualitative interviews have been conducted with these young people looking at issues of redistribution, recognition and representation in their lives since leaving school. He will argue they are not achieving participatory parity and worse, the three spheres of injustice work to reinforce each other in a vicious circle of exclusion.



Côté, J. and Bynner, J.M. (2008). ‘Changes in the transition to adulthood in the UK and Canada: the role of structure and agency in emerging adulthood’, Journal of Youth Studies, Vol. 11, (3), pp251- 268
Côté, J. (2014). Youth Studies, London: Palgrave Macmillan
France, A. (2008). ‘From Being to Becoming: The importance of tackling youth poverty in transitions to adulthood’, Social Policy & Society, Vol. 7, (4), pp495-505
Fraser, N. (1996). ‘Social Justice in the Age of Identity Politics: Redistribution, Recognition, and Participation’, The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, Stanford University, April 30-May 2
Fraser, N. (1997). Justice Interruptus: Critical reflections on the ‘post-socialist’ condition, London: Routledge
Fraser, N. (2005). ‘Reframing Justice in a Globalizing World’, New Left Review, Vol. 36, pp1-19
Fraser, N. (2008). Scales of Justice: Reimagining Political Space in a Globalising World. Cambridge: Polity Press
Rawls, J. (1971). A Theory Of Justice, London: Harvard Univerity Press
Simmons, R. & Thompson, R. (2013). ‘Reclaiming the disengaged: critical perspectives on young people not in education, employment or training’, Research in Post-Compulsory Education, Vol. 18, (1-2), pp1-11
Young, I.M. (1990). Justice and the Politics of Difference, New Jersey: Princeton University Press