University of Oulu

Student stories dealing with issues of justice in mainstream and Sudbury school contexts

Saved in:
Author: Harmsen, Yuan1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
Pages: 115
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : Y. Harmsen, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-12-07
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Jokikokko, Katri
Reviewer: Jokikokko, Katri
Uitto, Minna


The research examines issues of justice in both a mainstream and Sudbury school contexts through a narrative research of students’ perception of justice and injustice in situations at their primary and high schools in the Netherlands. By examining this neglected voice in the public debate of justice procedures in school, I clarify how their conception of justice and injustice informed significant turning points in their lives. The life history of four participants with diverse backgrounds studied in this master’s thesis includes a nonviolent understanding of situations at school that were resolved from a retributive or restorative justice framework. I used two major qualitative method analyses: (1) thematic content analysis and (2) critical incident analysis. Data have been collected from eight semi-structured interviews with four students who experienced both mainstream and Sudbury school contexts. This master’s thesis challenges the assumption that adults should be fully authorized to make fair judgements in school and students are incapable of making sound judgements. The research shows that the students’ conception of justice and injustice entail five interrelated features, including (1) student’s interest, (2) their ability to participate in situations involving justice, (3) their acceptance of authority, (4) their perception of procedural justice and (5) their perception of just outcomes. These students experienced that some of the limitations imposed by some adults appeared to be unjust. These recurring instances contributed to a situation in which they dropped out of the mainstream school. School contexts in which students perceived to be treated justly appear to affect multiple areas of their lives positively. This implies that justice issues are subjective in nature, socially created, and depend on collective agreement of the implemented rules and procedures that regulate justice in school. By considering issues of justice in mainstream schools from a student’s perspective who has also experienced an alternative school context, a refreshing exploration of justice issues in a mainstream school context was possible. This includes the reconsideration of the ways justice practices affect students’ lives, the complexities involved in students’ perspectives on justice and injustice, and the way we design justice procedures in school.

see all

Copyright information: © Yuan Harmsen, 2020. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.