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The Flawed Foundations of Social Equity in Public Administration: A Racial Contract Theory Critique

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journal contribution
submitted on 2024-02-11, 11:27 and posted on 2024-02-12, 13:40 authored by Kim Moloney, Rupert Lewis

The social equity concept of American public administration traces its roots to the philosophies of John Rawls, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. We suggest such fixed positionalities limit what is knowable about social equity. This is due to their restricted considerations of America’s racialized origins. By introducing Charles Mills’ racial contract theory to the public administration discipline, we suggest that the assumed “social contract” at America’s origins was racialized, was disconnected from its historical actuality, and was born of exploitation. Racialized epistemological foundations alter how the social equity concept is understood. The implications matter for our disciplinary understanding of social equity and its origins.

Other Information

Published in: Perspectives on Public Management and Governance
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Open Access funding provided by the Qatar National Library.



  • English


Oxford University Press

Publication Year

  • 2023

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Institution affiliated with

  • Hamad Bin Khalifa University
  • College of Public Policy - HBKU

Geographic coverage

United States of America (USA)