Distributive Justice in Family Relations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this paper is to highlight the important contribution of the lens of distributive justice to an understanding of family relations. Existent justice research in the family tends to focus on specific family relations: spouses, parents and young children, elderly parents and adult children, with most research addressing the division of labor between spouses. We seek to go beyond the specific family relations in order to highlight justice-related themes that are common across family relations. We elaborate upon three claims. First, we show that while the ideal of equality underpins justice in contemporary Western societies, actual distribution practices across family relations are characterized by persistent inequality. Second, although the gap between the ideal of equality and unequal distribution practices may create a sense of injustice among family members, we show why this is not necessarily the case. Third, we elaborate upon the positive and negative consequences that result from feelings of justice or injustice across family relations. We conclude by discussing the interweaving of love and justice in the family.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1062-1072
Number of pages11
JournalFamily Process
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Family Process Institute.


  • Adult children
  • Children-parents
  • Distributive justice
  • Elderly parents
  • Family relations
  • Family well being
  • Marriage
  • Partners

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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