Developing a substantive theory of African Americans' justice perceptions

2007 2007

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Abstract (summary)

The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand how African Americans define justice and injustice. This study examined the justice perceptions of 12 (8 females, 4 males) African American undergraduate students and consisted of two phases: (1) Completion of the cognitive appraisal instrument (Roseman, Spindel, & Jose, 1990) which predicts the relationship between specific types of events and perceptional/emotional reactions to that event, and a semi-structured interview; and (2) Completion of focus groups one (FG1) and focus group two (FG2). Grounded theory (GT) (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) was the constant comparative method used for simultaneous data collection and data analysis. Consensus coding was determined through unanimous decisions between the coders. The results of the study indicated that the participants define justice as morality, vindication, and fairness/balance. Injustice was defined as unfair, unequal, discrimination, and immoral. The results of the study further indicate that the justice perceptions of African Americans are affected by the history of oppression and their minority status in the United States. The awareness of oppression factor was influenced by: discrimination, attempts at alternative explanations for unjust experiences, belief that slavery is sometimes used as an excuse, and the effect of just and unjust events on their psychological well-being. Racial identity is influenced by: spirituality/religion, media, gender and class. A relationship was observed between spirituality and racial identity in that racial identity was a main factor in determining what was just, while spirituality determined the event's outcome. The present study contributes to the literature regarding what is known about African Americans' religious coping and justice perception and can guide practice, advocacy, social justice, and future research.

Indexing (details)

African Americans;
Social psychology
0325: African Americans
0451: Social psychology
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Psychology; African-American; Injustice; Justice; Perceptions; Qualitative
Developing a substantive theory of African Americans' justice perceptions
Berry, Felicia L.
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-B 69/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Georgia State University
University location
United States -- Georgia
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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