Civic republican social justice and the case of state grammar schools in England

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The aim of this paper is to consider the ways in which civic republican theory can provide a meaningful and useful account of social justice, one that is which holds resonance for educational debates. Recognising the need for educationalists interested in civic republicanism to pay greater attention to ideas of justice – and in particular social justice as it concerns relationships between citizens (citizen to citizen, group to group or citizen to group) – it is argued that a form of civic republicanism committed to freedom as non-domination is capable of providing a substantive model for analysing social (in)justice within educational arenas. After positioning the contribution offered here within existing educational literature on civic republicanism, salient elements of social justice as freedom as non-domination are identified. On this basis, debates concerning the existence and potential expansion of state (public) grammar schools in England are considered in relation to the account of republican social justice as non-domination. It is argued that from this republican position grammar schools (1) represent an arbitrary domination of the interests of those less well off by those with greater material and cultural capital and (2) in doing so lead to advantages for some at the expense of others. Though the focus of the paper is on grammar schools in England, it is suggested that republican justice may be a useful frame for considering similar educational cases in England and elsewhere.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167–179
Number of pages13
JournalStudies in Philosophy and Education
Early online date1 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Civic republicanism
  • social justice
  • education
  • grammar schools


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