Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Critical Theories of Social Justice

The research and scholarship of the members of the Critical Theories of Social Justice Division focuses on questions relating to competing conceptions of social justice, diverse approaches to framing research relating to social justice (both as an analytically and a politically oriented concept), and difficulties to circumscribe a generally accepted understanding of social justice.  Members of the Division work on a range of topics, from a variety of perspectives, in the context of several different disciplines including English, philosophy, philosophy of education, political science, and sociology.

Theoretical perspectives on social justice represented by members of the division are informed by the political philosophy of John Rawls (including hate crimes legislation, compulsory education, living wage legislation, integrity and political office, and reparations issues), critical legal theory, the critical theory of the Frankfurt School (especially Adorno, but also Marcuse, Habermas, and more recent representatives), the sociology of C. Wright Mills, the writings of Michael Harrington, theories of post-modernity and Native American literatures, pragmatism, feminist theory and pedagogy, and cultural studies in education.  Among division members, “critical theory” denotes both frameworks that are critical of social, political, cultural and economic circumstances which undercut efforts to advance social justice, and critical of conceptions of social justice that implicitly or explicitly abstract from, and neglect consideration of, specific conditions of injustice, as they continue to persist locally, regionally, nationally, and globally, by race, class, gender, and other dimensions of life in society.  Among the members are the editors of three journals:  Current Perspectives in Social Theory, International Education, and Soundings.  An Interdisciplinary Journal.

Representative Publications

  • Alderman, Derek H., Paul Kingsbury, and Owen Dwyer. “Re-examining the Montgomery Bus Boycott: Toward an Empathetic Pedagogy of the Civil Rights Movement.” Professional Geographer, forthcoming 2013.
  • Alderman, Derek H., Stefanie Benjamin, and Paige P. Schneider. 2012. “Transforming Mount Airy into Mayberry: Film-Induced Tourism as Place-Making.” Southeastern Geographer 52(2): 212-239.
  • Rose-Redwood, Reuben, Derek H. Alderman, and Maoz Azaryahu. 2010. “Geographies of Toponymic Inscription: New Directions in Critical Place-Name Studies.” Progress in Human Geography 34(4): 453-470.
  • Alderman, Derek H. 2008. “Place, Naming, and the Interpretation of Cultural Landscapes.” The Ashgate Research Companion to Heritage and Identity, Ashgate Press (edited by Brian Graham and Peter Howard), pp. 195-213.
  • Brown, Michelle. “Visual Criminology and Carceral Studies.” Theoretical Criminology (Special Issue: Visual Culture and the Iconography of Crime and Punishment, eds. Michelle Brown and Eamonn Carrabine), forthcoming 2014.
  • Polizzi, David and Michelle Brown. “Conversational Essay: Criminal Justice and Ethics.” The Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Criminology, forthcoming 2012.
  • Dahms, Harry F. “Theodor W. Adorno,” The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Major Social Theorists, ed. By George Ritzer & Jeff Stepnisky, vol. 1:  Chapter 18, pp. 448-468 (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011).
  • Dahms, Harry F. The Vitality of Critical Theory (Bingsley, UK:  Emerald, 2011).
  • Dahms, Harry F. “Affinities between the Project of Dynamic Theory and the Tradition of Critical Theory:  A Sketch”, Theorizing the Dynamics of Social Processes (Current Perspectives in Social Theory) 27; Emerald (UK), (2010), pp. 81-97.
  • Dahms, Harry F. “How Social Science is Impossible Without Critical Theory: The Immersion of Mainstream Approaches in Time and Space,” No Social Science Without Critical Theory, Current Perspectives in Social Theory 25 (Emerald, 2008):  3-61.
  • Dunn, Allen R. The Limits of Literary Historicism. Co-editor with Tom Haddox. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. 2012.
  • Dunn, Allen R. “The Precarious Integrity of the Postsecular,boundary 2, 37:3 (fall 2010): 91-98.
  • Dunn, Allen R. “The Devil in the Details: Modernism and the Dilemmas of Democratic Pluralism,” Southern Humanities Review (Fall 2008), 340-359.
  • Dunn, Allen R. “The Temptations of Metaphysics: Jeffrey Stout’s Account of the Limits of Moral Knowledge,” Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal 87.3-4 (Fall/Winter 2004), 301-314 (Charles Reynolds, Guest Editor).
  • Elias, Amy. “Postmodern Territories: Teaching Mason & Dixon and the Ideologies of Space,” in Approaches to Teaching The Novels of Thomas Pynchon, ed. Thomas Schaub (Modern Language Association Press, 2007)
  • Elias, Amy. “Critical Theory and Cultural Studies,” English Studies: An Introduction to the Discipline(s), ed. Bruce McComiskey (NCTA Press: 2006): 223-74
  • Elias, Amy. “Paranoia, Theology, and Inductive Style,” Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal  86.3-4 (2003): 281-313
  • Elias, Amy. Sublime Desire: History and Post-1960s Fiction (Parallax: Re-Visions of Culture and Society series). Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.
  • Garthoff, Jon. “The Idea of an Overlapping Consensus Revisited,” forthcoming in Journal of Value Inquiry, 2012.
  • Garthoff, Jon. “Legitimacy Is Not Authority,” Law and Philosophy 29:6, 2010.
  • Reidy, David. “Liberalism.” International Encyclopedia of Ethics, Hugh LaFollette, ed., Blackwell Publishing, 2012.  Co-authored with Rex Martin.
  • Reidy, David. “The Structural Variety of Historical Injustices.” Journal of Social Philosophy, v. 37, n.3, pgs. 360-376, 2006.  Co-authored with Jeppe von Platz.
  • Reidy, David. “Hate Crimes Laws: Progressive Politics or Balkanization?” Civility and its Discontents: Civic Virtue, Toleration and Social Fragmentation, Chris Sistare, ed., Univ. Press of Kansas, 2004, 258-283. Reprinted, Contemporary Moral Issues, L. Hinman, ed., Prentice Hall, 2005.
  • Reidy, David.“ Hate Crimes, Oppression and Legal Theory.” Public Affairs Quarterly, v. 16, pgs. 259-285, 2002.
  • Thayer-Bacon, Barbara J. Beyond liberal democracy in schools:  The power of pluralism.  New York, NY:  Teachers College Press, 2008.
  • Thayer-Bacon, Barbara J. “Feminist theory in education.”  In E. Provenzo (Ed.), Encyclopedia of social and cultural foundations of education. Sage, 2008
  • Thayer-Bacon, Barbara J. “Democracies-always-in-the-making:  Maxine Greene’s influence.” Educational Studies 44(3) (Nov-Dec.) 2008:  256-269.
  • Thayer-Bacon, Barbara J. “What feminist inquiry contributes to philosophy and the philosophy of education:  A symposium.”  Educational Theory 57(3) 2007: 297-306 (with G. Turner).