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Distributive justice and vocational education

Halliday, John (2004) Distributive justice and vocational education. British Journal of Educational Studies, 52 (2). pp. 151-165. ISSN 0007-1005

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Abstract

This paper considers the relationship between distributive justice and vocational education. It examines both the way that the very notion of a vocational education carries implications for distributive justice and how the meaning of justice itself might be shifting towards one of inclusion. The argument, which is based on the recent work of Bernard Williams (2002), may have some general explanatory and predictive power particularly relevant to the educational uses of certain terms. 'Vocational' is used in the paper as an exemplar. It is argued that consideration of what is just in any liberal society involves weighting the application of principles in ways that respect the shared values of that society. These values are communicated partly through hopeful myths that enable social cohesion. One such set of myths currently serves to sustain some degree of hope that emphasis on the vocational in education will enable distributive justice. Increasingly however experience of and research within vocational education reveals some truths that challenge these myths. Neither myth nor truth floats free of structure, however, and the paper also includes discussion of the ways that structure, truth and myth are related.