Chapter Eight focuses on the idea of justice and the challenges and lessons learned from the South African case study (Sen, 1999). It combines conceptual and empirical elements, prompting a conversation between the five DCR principles and elements from the data in this project to conceptualise this DCR practice. The principles are reviewed and their application in the South African case is explored alongside their contribution to social justice and decolonisation.
The chapter considers social justice as a contested term that has been influenced historically by various dominant visions and perspectives (Capeheart & Milevanovic, 2007). These visions have tended to universalise just criteria in order to assess and seek a ‘perfect society’ from above—usually from an elitist and paternalist social class. However, this book presents an incomplete vision of justice that must be contextualised for us to create a public debate and scrutinise perspectives that do not necessarily need to be unified (Sen, 2011). The chapter argues that to achieve social justice in knowledge production and research practices within higher education we do not need to create a universal application of DCR.