Researching Leadership for Social Justice: Are Some Methods Better than Others?

  • Robert DonmoyerEmail author
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE, volume 29)


This chapter links a concern with social justice, in general, and leadership for social justice, in particular, with choices about research methodology. The first part of the chapter demonstrates how the methodological debate about qualitative and quantitative research that occurred in the United States during the final three decades of the twentieth century helped keep a concern for promoting social justice front and center in the field of education. Specific benefits of both the qualitative research that these debates legitimated and the thinking that was used to legitimate the use of qualitative methods are also discussed.

In the second part of the chapter, the author argues that the juxtaposing of qualitative and quantitative methods during the final three decades of the twentieth century and the demonizing of quantitative methods that often accompanied this juxtaposition is, actually, quite problematic. This claim is supported by a three-part argument. First, the author notes that many of the critiques of quantitative methods were more critiques of their inappropriate use rather than of the methods themselves. Second, the author demonstrates that descriptive statistics, at least, are required to learn about the extent of social injustice and make a compelling case that some sort of action is required. Finally, the author argues that even studies that attempt to provide causal explanations (or reasonable facsimiles of causal explanations) could possibly be useful if we think of the results of these studies as potentially functional fictions rather than as ontological statements about the social world.


Twentieth Century Social Justice School Leader Social Injustice Female Leader 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Leadership and Education Sciences, Department of Leadership StudiesUniversity of San DiegoSan DiegoUSA

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