Social Justice Perspectives on Education, Skills, and Economic Inequalities

Robin Shields, Kalyan Kumar Kameshwara

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section

1 Citation (SciVal)


This chapter discusses how social justice is related to education in the labor market. While seldom considered in literature on education for social justice, the role of education in developing skills raises challenging questions. On the one hand, many understandings of fairness would permit an individual who has undertaken advanced levels of education and economically value skills to receive a premium in her salary for these efforts; on the other hand, the economic inequality that arises from this premium can undermine a just society, particularly when access to higher levels of education is restricted to those who can afford it. In this chapter, we review fundamental conceptualizations of both social justice and skills in the labor market. We identify two key questions that a socially just approach to skills must address, concerning the access to and returns from advanced education. We argue that Sen’s concept of capabilities offers a way to balance these considerations without exclusively focusing on equality of inputs (access) or outcomes (returns). The chapter thereby contributes to a more thorough and conceptually rigorous understanding of how education can promote a socially just society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on Promoting Social Justice in Education
EditorsRosemary Papa
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783319740782
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Social justice
  • Skills
  • Education
  • Labour market
  • Fairness
  • Capability approach


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