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Toward a Multilevel Distributive Justice Theory

Barry Markovsky
American Sociological Review
Vol. 50, No. 6 (Dec., 1985), pp. 822-839
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095506
Page Count: 18
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Toward a Multilevel Distributive Justice Theory
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Abstract

This theory of distributive justice integrates and refines ideas from the equity, distributive justice and relative deprivation approaches in a formal framework spanning levels of analysis. It assumes that individuals form judgments about the propriety of reward allocations based upon social comparisons across individuals, groups or standards, and that all such comparisons are potential sources for feelings of injustice and justice-restoring behaviors. When linked with Jasso's (1980) theory of aggregate consequences of individual justice evaluations, we have the capability to investigate theoretically and empirically certain individual- and/or aggregate-level behavior as determined by a small set of individual and/or aggregate properties. Research is reported in which individuals responded to unjust pay allocations in a multi-person, multi-group setting--a simulated organization. Hypotheses derived from the theory were concerned with predicting the relative impact of (1) different degrees of injustice (a logarithmic response function was tested); (2) individual versus collective injustices (conditions under which one or the other should predominate were tested); and (3) different numbers of injustices in a situation (increasing the number of injustices was predicted to decrease the impact of each). All of the hypotheses were supported.

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