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The Sociology of Social Justice: Power, Difference and the Potential for Transformational Change. Dr. Paul R. Carr. Overview of the presentation. About me/context for the presentation Research approach Research projects Synthesis of the inter-connections and salience of the research

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the sociology of social justice power difference and the potential for transformational change

The Sociology of Social Justice:Power, Difference and the Potentialfor Transformational Change

Dr. Paul R. Carr

overview of the presentation
Overview of the presentation
  • About me/context for the presentation
  • Research approach
  • Research projects
  • Synthesis of the inter-connections and salience of the research

Any and all comments/questions/critiques are welcome

about me context for the presentation
About me/context for the presentation
  • Applied, experiential/academic background:
    • Political science
    • Public administration
    • Education
    • Educational policymaking
    • Policy, curriculum and program work re: minority/equity/diversity/Aboriginal matters
    • Latin American development
    • Sociology (applied, theoretical, empirical, teaching)
  • Work with colleagues in English/French/Spanish in diverse contexts
  • Studies in France
  • Five years as a professor in US
  • Travel in a number of countries during last few years
research approach
Research approach
  • Sociological focus with interdisciplinary linkages
  • Critical theoretical/conceptual framework, influenced by:

  • Bricolage methodological approach, problematizing and complexifying the sociology of social justice

Shirley Steinberg (CAN) Peter McLaren (USA) Brad Porfilio (USA) Michael Hoechsman (CAN)

  • ASSOCIATED with the Paulo and Nita Freire International Project for Critical Pedagogy; Editor – International J. of Critical Pedagogy

Research Program connecting the Sociology of Social Justice

Dr. Paul R. Carr

  • Major research themes
  • Key areas of inquiry
  • Working relationships
  • Methodological approaches
  • Neo-liberalism and the media
  • Media literacy and education
  • Media analysis and critical pedagogy
  • Freirian studies and the media



Bricolage Approach

  • Doing democracy
  • Critical engagement
  • Politics & political literacy
  • Democratic citizenship
  • George Dei (CAN)
  • Carl James (CAN)
  • Darren Lund (CAN)
  • Gina Thésée (CAN)
  • ASSOCIATED with the Centre for Leadership and Diversity at OISE/U of T
  • David Zyngier (AUS)
  • Daniel Schugurensky CAN)
  • Joel Westheimer (CAN)
  • GDDRP (Latin America)
  • Co-director of Global Doing Democracy Research Project, with projects in a dozen countries
  • Whiteness
  • Anti-racism
  • Race, identity and globalization
  • Immigration and neo-liberalism
  • Lucie Suave (CAN) ReinaldoFleuri (Brazil)
  • AlineGohard-Radenkovic (SUI) J-P Tsala-Tsala (CAMEROUN)
  • BOARD MEMBER: Comparative and Internat. Ed. Society; Association pour la rechercheinterculturelle
  • North/South relations
  • Peace and the environment
  • Environmental education
  • Comparative & international education





2 research some interdisciplinary projects connecting the sociology of social justice
2) Research: Some (interdisciplinary) projects connecting the sociology of social justice
  • Democracy, (inter)culturality and critical pedagogy
    • Sociology, political studies, democratic education, critical theory, comparative studies
  • Whiteness and Power (and Privilege) in a Colour-Blind Society
    • Sociology, interculturalism, race and ethnic relations, epistemology, anti-racist education

C) Environmental justice and peace

    • Sociology, environmental studies, peace studies, critical theory, environmental education

D) Political conscientization and critical media literacy

    • Sociology, media studies, critical theory, cultural studies, media education
themes from research with teacher educators in canada and the us
Themes from research with teacher-educators in Canada and the US

Pertinence and definition of critical pedagogy as an approach to enhancing, framing and contextualizing democracy

  • Four themes emerged:
    • the conceptualization of democracy, with an over-riding focus on elections;
    • the democratic educational experience of participants is often limited;
    • the concern about teaching controversial issues and indoctrination; and
    • the understanding of, and linkage to, social justice .
  • Importance of neo-liberalism in defining the educational experience
  • Lack of critical appreciation of democracy as a philosophy, ethos, political system and cultural phenomenon
  • Limited focus on critical thinking, politics as a way of life, power-sharing, the decision-making process, the role of the media, alternative systems, and social responsibility as part of what could be considered thick democracy.
  • Cook & Westheimer: “If people are not born democrats, then education surely has a significant role to play in ensuring that democrats are made”.
  • Connection between democracy and education needs to be made more concrete, enduring and critical
  • Social justice needs to be re-centered
  • Re: Freire’s work, education is a political project; avoiding embracing such a notion will diminish the educational and democratic experience for students

political literacy

  • Thick-thin spectrum of democracy and democratic education
  • Implications for society if education is thinly connected to democracy
the myth of white goodness and resistance to engaging whiteness
The myth of White goodness, and resistance to engaging Whiteness
  • Canada as a civilized, non-colonizing, pacifist nation, with “two founding peoples” , more welcoming and charitable (and less racist) than the US
  • Canadians embrace multiculturalism, difference and minority status(?)
  • How do we reconcile our history of history of colonization, slavery & racism?
  • Canada as a White country (embassies, symbols, monarchy)
  • Prime Ministers, Supreme Court Judges, major cultural and media figures, business icons, etc. are largely, if not exclusively, White
  • Power: income; incarceration; employment ; discrimination; status; representation based on race, etc.
  • Equity advancements have often avoided racial issues (i.e., women’s movement)
  • Networks, associations, clubs, etc. are changing but Whiteness is still a predominant factor
  • Unwritten, unspoken, coded language



Mimi Pinguin, important characature in Mexico in the 1940s, in a series of stamps in 2005(Source :



Is Tin-Tin racist?(Sources : (


whites who paint their faces black blackface source http en wikipedia org wiki blackface
Whites who paint their faces black (Blackface)(Source :


White hate groups (Sources : et



(C) Environmental justice and peace:

Confronting ecological indifference


The over-development of the North multiple vulnerabilities in the South

Environmental education education on/for/about sustainable development

Colonialist and neo-liberal hegemony invalidate knowledge of “others”

 epistemological racism

Is peace an option for resolving conflict?

How do we reconcile military intervention with the environment?

What are the implications of a passive, neutral, apolitical environmental education based on science education?

four vignettes on the environment power and vulnerability
Four vignettes on the environment, power and vulnerability

Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (2005)

Iraq War (2003 - present) + Iraq War (1991)

Vietnam War (1959-1975)

Haïti (slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism)


Hurricane Katrina





peace the environment the media and education
Peace, the environment, the media and education

The need to learn and teach about the environment from a critical perspective, including the visible and invisible linkages to peace (and war)

Contextualizing standards-based education within a neoliberal context in relation the environment is fundamental

Environmental studies must also, necessarily, be interdisciplinary, linking peace, the media, politics and critical engagement in and through education

How should we understand media coverage of the environment outside of hegemonic considerations related to militarization?


(D) Political conscientization and media (il)literacy: Critiquing the media as a form of democratic engagement

  • Surveys on media literacy at beginning and end of course
  • Several weeks of discussions , blogs and presentations re: the role of the media
  • Critical analysis techniques and perspectives: Factor analysis (political, legal, economic, social, educational, stakeholder…)
  • Practical media activities
  • Culminating project: students monitor, document and analyze 2 or more media outlets (television, newspaper, internet, and radio) for one week
  • Some areas of inquiry:
    • What is the context for the news?
    • What perspectives are elucidated? Political vantage-points?
    • Does the news vary from medium to medium ? Impact of Corporate control?
    • How is race (and social justice) portrayed?
    • How do the media connect with and to education?

Theme 1: Superficial treatment of media literacy in schools

Theme 2: The media includes more than traditional outlets (newspaper, television, radio)

Theme 3: The corporate infiltration in the mass media

Theme 4: The omni-presence of (neo-liberal) standards overrides media literacy

Theme 5: Media literacy needs to be approached from multiple vantage-points

Theme 6: The marginalization of diverse groups in the mass media

Theme 7: The effect of the course on media literacy

connecting the sociology of social justice
Connecting the sociology of social justice
  • (A) Democracy + (B) Whiteness + (C) Environment + (D) Media  link together through a critical social justice theoretical/conceptual perspective
  • Fundamental commonalities:
    • Power and inequitable power relations
    • Hegemony and corporate/institutional/governmental control
    • Salience of neo-liberalism
    • Diluted debate on race/class/gender/…
    • Political literacy is marginalized
    • Interdisciplinary connections in understanding, and linking, each
    • Critical theory/methods/studies (can) enhance our understanding of each as well as a collectivity
  • Conscientization can be a way of addressing inequalities, difference, an understanding of oppression and transformational change
  • Praxis and critical engagement (in part, through education) is imperative