Social justice in the head: are we all libertarians now?
Issues of social justice are normally conceived of and dealt with in terms of the effects of policies or institutional practices or the application of abstract principles. Individuals are typically only brought into play as the bearers or perpetrators of injustice – as racists for example – or as the victims of injustice. Here I want to position individuals somewhat differently. I want to look at middle-class parents as the bearers of principles of justice and as actors producing aggregate social effects through the playing out of the relationships between their principles and their actions. Within this I shall consider the way in which principles and actions are, for some, part of a ‘liberal’ social identity – a way they think about themselves and present themselves to others, that is their relation to the social world. At points my deliberations touch upon some well-worn debates around the issues of liberalism and communitarianism (Kymlicka, 1989).