Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Vivienne Bozalek's presentation on a Normative Framework for Social Justice, 29 August 2014 - Report by Bella Vilakazi

Bella Vilakazi compiled this report

The presentation was enlightening and it gave us areas to think about or consider when it comes to developing or researching on socially just pedagogies. Vivian encouraged dialogue among us so that we can think about the projects in relations to social justice, the capability approach and ethics of care.

Three areas of interest were presented:

1    .     Social Justice: Nancy Fraser
2    .     The Capability Approach: Amartya Sen, Martha Nussbaum
3    .     Ethics of Care: Joan Tronto

The premise that Vivienne started from in her presentation:
“It important to examine moral and normative framework, which put forward, how things ought to be, as well as the values that underpins policies and practices in order for us to consider issues of social justice, difference and care”
Vivienne pointed out that the analysis of normative framework is important because it
·       points out to what is important in social arrangements particularly with social justice, difference and care. The SOTL@UJ project can be guided by focusing on social arrangements that can enable socially just pedagogies, ethics of care and the capability approach.
Social Justice          
Socially just pedagogies in Vivienne’s view means that students and academics should be able to interact as equals and social arrangements need to be made to make these interactions possible. Vivian advised the seminar that socially just pedagogies should not be restricted to teaching and learning only. The SOTL@UJ project should consider looking at the entire context of higher education policies and structures. The goals of social justice should be located around participatory parity, human flourishing and abilities to give and receive care.

There are 3 aspects that Vivian presented on Nancy Fraser’s views
1     .     Redistribution of resources (economic dimension). This aspect of justice might be problematic because it does not include difference.  This is something that needs to be unpacked and find ways to make this aspect applicable to socially just pedagogies.
2    .     Recognition of status (a cultural dimension): how people are valued or devalued because of their attributes, distinct characteristics and cultural capital. In the social sphere, economic and political sphere, teachers might not be valued because the teaching career it is associated with women or with care or it is a career that does not yield strong economic benefits.
3    .     Cultural capital and recognition: These aspects are intertwined but they need to be analysed and understood separately in an affirmative and transformative way.
4    .     Social belonging and social inclusion. This is  the political dimension where students can be devalued, misrecognised or excluded and they cannot claim their rights. Globalisation and technological advances are  some of the aspects that highlight who is valued, recognised and belongs.

    Vivienne came up with the 4 R’s that are essential for social justice:
1   .     Resources
2   .     Recognition
3   .     Responsibility: Lotter (2011) argues that there has to be a justice of accountability and enablement. These are instances where an academic accounts for students who are under their care and create enabling environment so that students to can gain capabilities and flourish in their learning.
4    .     Representation: This is giving students voice. The feedback practice for instance is a dialogical practice which gives students voice. Academics however need to be aware of how their power can supress student voice.

The Capability approach: Amartya Sen, Martha Nussbaum
This approach is concerned with human flourishing. In this view students’ particularity, plurality, context and concrete others as opposed to generalised others, is important and valuable. Socially just pedagogies need to enable students to gain abilities, choose the lives they want, do what is valuable and achieve valuable states.
The capability approach takes into account where people are positioned and what they are able to do with their personal, social and material resources. It does not assume what people need nor decide for them what their needs might be. In the context of higher education, students bring along cultural capital which must be valued and built upon, for example their indigenous knowledge’s. The capital that they bring can only be enhanced to enable them to participate on par with others.
For me the capability approach however, involves all students; those who are prepared and under-prepared, who come from diverse socio-economic and schooling backgrounds. This holistic approach aims to cultivate and ensure students’ flourishing and their well-being during and after higher learning.
Vivienne shared a few ideas with us with are worth considering in the capability approach, social justice and politics of care
·       What are students and academics able to be and do?
·       What capabilities can they exercise?
·       How privileged or disadvantaged are they?
·       What implications does this have on their lives?
·       Are they able to interact on par?

Ethics of care: A social practice in Joan Tronto’s view
Vivienne gave the seminar questions or pointers to think about regarding the ethics of care
1.     what sort of work is being done,
2.     which responsibilities constitute giving of care or caring,
3.     how do power relations affect the work of caring and
4.     what kinds of practices are used to ensure that those who need care actually get it.
I found these questions important because it clarifies what ethics of care mean for higher education and for the project. Ethics of care are exercised when learning needs can be identified (Waghid, 2007; 2010) by both the students and academics.
The world does not always have people who are self-sufficient, independent and equal. Dependency is an inevitable condition in human life. In higher education students come with learning needs and social arrangements can be made to enable pedagogies of care to enhance their learning. Social arrangements can be feedback which reflects caring and ensuring that capabilities, flourishing and wellness in learning can develop.
The ethics of care sees human beings as having a relational ontology which is connection based rather that individual. In higher education caring for learning needs is academic discipline specific. A lecturer at engineering might not be able to give learning care to a student in the humanities.  The ethics of care are negotiated spaces; they consider familiarity and the context of the care giver and receiver. “Care consist of everything we do to care and repair our world so that we may live in it as well as possible”
There are 5 phases of care
·       Caring about is noticing that people have needs. It is an injustice to ignore that people need caring
·       Caring for is taking responsibility to ensure that people’s needs are met
·       Giving care: the work of giving care and competencies that go with it.
·       Responsiveness: taking responsibility in giving care where it is needed. This can be done however within the means of the care giver.
·       Caring with: Caring is a process and in this habits and patterns of caring emerge gradually, moral qualities of trust and solidarity develop and continue. 
We need to note that there is always care that is not always good e.g. bad teaching. In order for caring to be done well, attentiveness, responsibility, responsiveness, iteration of the process of care is needed.
The moral integrity of care means that participation and principle is co-constructed, dialogical and negotiated. Care also has notions of power e.g. assuming that you know more than the others, patronising, assuming that you know what people need. Good caring practices require good practices and dialogue between those giving and receiving care rather that pointing out what is right and wrong.
It is wrong to assume that
1    .     misfortune causes care: when care is regarded is belonging to the needy and the vulnerable. The ethics of care believe that all people are need of caring
2    .     care givers can determine what kind of caring is needed. This amounts to patronising, imposes power on care receivers and unfairly determines who needs care and how responsibilities  should be allocated
3    .     Care is a commodity (a neo-liberal argument). Students are not consumers and should not be viewed in terms of corporate pedagogy. Student learning is more important than giving a service. Care should rather be a process than a commodity

4    .     Care receivers can be excluded because they lack expertise and therefore cannot make judgments. Attentiveness and responsibility is needed in the giving and receiving care Management structures need to be close to the requirements and the recommendations of the ethics of care to avoid being disconnected from needs of students

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