Theoretical foundations for social justice education.

ABSTRACT This chapter contextualizes the approach to oppression and social justice taken throughout this book. It provides a framework for readers who approach oppression and social justice from other positions to see what approaches we share, and where we differ. Our intention is to foster a broad and continuing dialogue among the many people who struggle, as we do, to find more effective ways to challenge oppressive systems and promote social justice through education. The chapter examines the enduring and the ever-changing aspects of oppression by tracing ways in which "commonsense" knowledge and assumptions make it difficult to see oppression clearly. We underscore the value of history for discerning patterns, often invisible in daily life, that reflect systemic aspects of oppression as it functions in different periods and contexts. We propose concepts that enable us to freeze and focus on specific forms of oppression in our teaching while staying cognizant of the shifting kaleidoscope of dynamic and complex social processes in which they are embedded. As historical circumstances change and newly emerging social movements take up issues of oppression in the United States and throughout the world, new definitions and understandings will evolve. Through highlighting the historical and contextual nature of this process here, we hope to avoid the danger of reifying systems of oppression as static or treating individuals as unidimensional and unchanging. History illustrates both how tenacious and variable systems of oppression are and how dynamic and creative we must continue to be to rise to the challenges they pose. The concepts and processes we present in this text are also continuously evolving. We hope the work presented in this second edition will contribute to an ongoing dialogue about social justice education theory and practice in ways that can have more potent and sustained impacts for justice, fairness and equality in our world. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)