Individual and Collective Social Justice Education: Comparing Emphases on Human Rights and Social Movements in Textbooks Worldwide

Strategies for promoting social justice include both individualistic approaches, rooted in the universalistic philosophy of human rights, and collectivist approaches, such as groupor issue-specific rights advocated by various social movements. The expansion of human rights education is well documented, but less attention has been given to education for or about other social movements. Drawing on a content analysis of 556 secondary school textbooks from 80 countries between 1950 and 2011, we compare and contrast the rise of emphases on social movements and human rights. Our analyses reveal a marginalized emphasis on social movements in secondary school civics and social studies curricula, while history books are more likely to include discussions of social movements. An implication of these findings is that in formal structures of education, such as textbooks, emphases on social movements may be relegated to matters of historical record, rather than treated as part of contemporary, active citizenship.

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