College Students’ Social Justice Interest

Miller, M. J., Sendrowitz, K., Connacher, C., Blanco, S., Muñiz de la Peña, C., Bernardi, S., & Morere, L. (2009). College students’ social justice interest and commitment: A social-cognitive perspective. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 56(4), 495-507.

Social justice researchers have investigated the factors that result in disparities as well as strategies to facilitate equal access to rights and resources.  Few studies have explored factors associated with the development of attitudes about social justice advocacy.  Miller, Sendrowitz, Connacher, Blanco, Muñiz de la Peña, Bernardi, and Morere (2009) investigated interest in, and commitment to, social justice. A sample of 274 college student participants completed a social issues questionnaire that included measures of (1) social justice self-efficacy – the  perception that one can successfully engage in advocacy activities, (2) social justice outcome expectations – the perception that social justice activity will result in positive social, material, and self-evaluative outcomes, (3) social justice interest, (4) social justice commitment, (5) perceived social support for engaging in social justice activities, and (6) perceived barriers to engaging in social justice activities. Results showed that higher levels of social justice self-efficacy were associated with more positive expectations of, and interest in, social justice activity.  In addition, greater social justice interest was associated with greater commitment to future social justice advocacy.  Perceived social support for advocacy work enhanced social justice self-efficacy and lower levels of social justice barriers was associated with more positive expectations for social justice outcomes.  Based on these findings, the authors recommended that students take social justice courses, participate in service learning activities, or receive mentoring by experienced social justice advocates in order to increase their own social justice self-efficacy.

Making Connections

Social support

Media Supplement

This NPR article and video explore the role of student activists in banning bottled water on college campuses due to environmental and health concerns. [2 min 34 sec]

This entry was posted in Activism and Social Change, Human Rights, Learning.