Skip to content

16 CES Open Forum Series

The Interaction of Social Justice Frames and Inequality in the US

Dec 12, 2013 Martin Schroeder


This paper uses a content analysis of newspaper articles to show how material social inequality and social justice views that are articulated in a public media discourse interact. It shows that before the 1970s, the New York Times mostly described social inequality in egalitarian terms and advocated that social inequality should be structured by egalitarian principles. When material social inequality increased in the US after 1980, this was accompanied both by increased descriptions of social inequality as structured by individualistic social justice principles and by increased arguments that social inequality should follow individualistic justice principles. In this sense, this paper shows that social inequality and social justice views about inequality coincide, with justice views having changed from predominant egalitarianism before the 1980s to predominant individualism after the 1980s.