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Judging children’s participatory parity from social justice and the political ethics of care perspectives

V Bozalek


This article proposes a model for judging children’s participatory parity in different social spaces. The notion of participatory parity originates in Nancy Fraser’s normative theory for social justice, where it concerns the participatory status of adults. What, then, constitutes participatory parity for children? How should we judge the extent to which they are able to participate as equals in their different social environments? And how should we evaluate the adequacy of different social arrangements for children’s participation, across the ‘private/public’ divide? The article examines the usefulness of three normative frameworks for judging the conditions for children to participate on an equal footing with others, in ways that support their well-being. Two frameworks are from the field of social justice theory; the third is from the political ethics of care. Selected concepts from all three frameworks are used to propose a normative model for children’s participatory parity. Examples from a study on children’s participatory practices in South African families illustrate the application of the model, which holds some promise for theorising children’s participation in other participatory spaces.