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ERIC Number: EJ1148714
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Jul
Pages: 20
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1477-8785
Distributive Equality, Relational Equality and Preferences about Higher Education
Voigt, Kristin
Theory and Research in Education, v15 n2 p109-128 Jul 2017
Are scenarios in which disadvantaged students prefer not to attend (certain) universities a concern from the perspective of an egalitarian theory of justice? I consider this question from the respective perspectives of two prominent approaches to equality: distributive theories, which focus on the fairness of inequalities in outcomes, and relational theories, in which equality is conceived in terms of the relations among individuals. While distributive theorists seek to directly assess the fairness of distributions, relational theorists argue that our assessment of distributions must be guided by broader concerns of relational equality. As I suggest in this article, this difference in approach is also reflected in the debate about justice and education, in particular in the context of the debate about whether justice in education requires some form of equality or, rather, as theorists such as Elizabeth Anderson and Debra Satz have suggested, "adequacy." I suggest that both distributive and relational theorists can identify as problematic that disadvantaged students prefer not to go to university (or certain universities), though they will have different interpretations of what precisely is problematic about such a scenario and how it relates to inequality of the relevant kind. However, this judgment is susceptible to the objection that it is counterintuitive that preferences that individuals endorse and identify with would be the source of unfair inequalities. In response, I argue that both distributive and relational egalitarians have good reason to challenge this objection; individuals' preferences, even if the individuals themselves endorse these preferences, should not fall beyond the purview of egalitarian theory. The final section returns to the theoretical debate between distributive and relational approaches to equality.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A