Reflecting upon etic and emic perspectives on distributive justice

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The study of distributive justice may be examined using two research perspectives. The first, etic perspective seeks to unveil the common characteristics that characterize the spectrum of distributive justice phenomena across different cultures and circumstances. This perspective focuses on the universal aspects of justice behavior, namely, general laws and causal explanations. The second, emic perspective focuses on the ways in which justice behavior is expressed in specific socio-cultural contexts. This paper proposes a three-part reflection on these two perspectives on distributive justice. First, we review the ways in which the emic, culturally specific perspective has hitherto been incorporated into research on distributive justice; second, we examine the ways which the etic and emic perspectives are employed in two empirical studies on justice perception in Israel; and, finally, we suggest possible ways in which an extended emic perspective can be further incorporated in the study of distributive justice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-387
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Justice Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Attitudes
  • Cross-cultural
  • Distributive justice
  • Etic and emic research
  • Israel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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