Social Justice Usage
Source: Sensoy, Ozlem, and Robin DiAngelo. Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education, first edition. Teacher’s College Press: New York, 2012, pp. 15–16.
Socialization refers to the systematic training into the norms of our culture. Socialization is the process of learning the meanings and practices that enable us to make sense of and behave appropriately in that culture. … Socialization begins at birth and continues throughout life. Indeed, the forces of socialization are gathering even before birth when our families begin to project their hopes, dreams, and expectations onto our lives.
The clearest example of this cultural education is the process of gender socialization. Consider the first question most people ask expectant parents, “Is it a boy or a girl?” Why do we ask this question? We ask this question because the answer sets in motion a series of expectations and actions. For example, if parents are informed that they are having a girl, they may begin to buy clothes and decorate the room in preparation for their daughter’s arrival. The colors they choose, the toys they buy, their expectations for her future, will all be informed by what that culture deems appropriate for girls.
New Discourses Commentary
The Theory of Critical Social Justice is ultimately social (or culturally) constructivist in orientation, which means that it believes to an extreme (if not complete) degree that the material realities of human existence are artifacts of human activity, especially our beliefs, attitudes, traditions, and values, and also how those are all transmitted through language. The term socialization refers to the process by which people learn, both directly, from being taught how to be in society, and indirectly, from being exposed to the expectations and norms of society, what it means to be their identity and (in some cases) how to perform it (see also, double consciousness, acting white, gender performativity, whiteness, and straight passing).
Socialization undoubtedly occurs and is very influential on human behavior. This is not in any serious doubt among anyone. As can be read above, Social Justice takes this view to an extreme, including by denying the biological influences on behavior that come with being male or female. While everyone who studies the “nature versus nurture” question seriously admits that “nurture” contributes some—and significantly—to human behavior, at least where sex (and gender and sexuality) is concerned, only social constructivists like we see in Social Justice scholarship and activism believe that everything (or nearly everything) comes down to the social constructions of “nurture” (see also, biological essentialism, sex essentialism, and blank slatism).
Socialization is also the process by which people are said to learn to internalize their privilege, marginalization, dominance, and/or oppression. White people, and those who are “white-adjacent,” are socialized into whiteness (and with it, white supremacy, racism, and/or acting white, if a person of color). Black people are socialized into “blackness.” Similar is true in feminist theories, where the systemic forces are patriarchy and misogyny, for example, and in critical sexuality studies or queer Theory, where they are normativities, such as heteronormativity (that it is more common, thus “normal,” to be straight than homosexual) and cisnormativity (that is is normal to have one’s gender identity and sex match). In both of these cases, this “normality” is viewed not as a matter of nature—as you might expect to find in a sexually reproducing species—but as a product of how people talk about things (discourses) that we all learn from constant immersion in a highly political society. In essence, as there can be no innate human differences according to Social Justice (see also, blank slatism), everything that is tied up with someone’s identity is something they were socialized into believing, accepting, perpetuating, and performing by the dominant and in service of maintaining the existing hierarchy of dominance (see also, Matrix of Domination and status quo).
Social Justice wants people to be very invested in their identities and to spend a great deal of time reflecting upon the ways that they have been socialized into the expectations and norms that go along with them (on the assumption that they are mere cultural artifacts, thus arbitrary, thus can be deconstructed, subverted, disrupted, or dismantled using critical methods anytime they are unjust). Coming to an awareness of one’s social position (with respect to systemic power dynamics) and the forces of socialization that created them (both your own and for others) is called becoming “woke” or developing a “critical consciousness.” The objective of Critical Social Justice is, in a nutshell, to engender this critical consciousness in everyone they can and problematize the system until it can be overthrown in a social revolution set on its own terms and installing its own worldview (see also, hegemony).
Acting white; Biological essentialism; Blackness; Cisnormativity; Critical; Critical consciousness; Deconstruction; Discourse; Dismantle; Disrupt; Dominance; Double consciousness; Gender; Gender identity; Gender performativity; Hegemony; Heteronormativity; Identity; Injustice; Internalized dominance; Internalized oppression; Marginalization; Matrix of Domination; Misogyny; Norm; Normativity; Oppression; Patriarchy; People of color; Performativity; Position; Privilege; Problematize; Queer Theory; Racism (systemic); Revolution; Sex; Sex essentialism; Sexuality; Social construction; Social constructivism; Social Justice; Status quo; Straight passing; Subvert; System, the; Systemic power; Theory; White; White adjacent; White supremacy; Whiteness; Woke/Wokeness
Source: Sensoy, Ozlem, and Robin DiAngelo. Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education, first edition. Teacher’s College Press: New York, 2012, p. 130.
As we have explained, our socialization is the foundation of our identity. Thus to consider that we have been socialized to participate in systems of oppression that we don’t condone is to challenge our very sense of who we are. But this socialization is not something we could choose or avoid, and doesn’t make us bad people. It does, however, make us responsible for reeducating ourselves and working to change oppressive systems. This is unquestionably very challenging but can also be personally rewarding as we gain insight, expand our perspectives, deepen our cross-group relationships, align what we believe and say with what we do, and increase our personal and political integrity.
Source: Harro, B. (2013). The cycle of socialization. In M. Adams, W.J. Blumenfeld, C. Castañeda,, H.W. Hackman, M.L. Petrs, & X. Zúñiga. (Eds.), Readings for diversity and social justice (pp. 45-52). New York: Routledge.
Source: Sensoy, O. & DiAngelo, R. (2012). Socialization. In O. Sensoy & R. DiAngelo, Is everyone really equal? (pp. 14-25). New York: Teachers College Press.[Socialization is t]he process through which we become accustomed to societal norms, i.e., rules about appropriate or acceptable social identities, beliefs and behaviors. We are bombarded by these messages even before we are born. These messages are offered by a widening social network (interpersonal, institutional, structural). Through socialization, we learn about social identity categories, such as socioeconomic status, race, assigned sex, gender, religion, health status, sexual orientation, and many other social identity categories, as well as the boundaries of human worth and value. It is training/ education like any other. We are great students! We then use this framework to guide our behaviors, beliefs, and professional practices.
Revision date: 3/9/20