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Social Justice What Is Social Justice

Social justice is the equal access to wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society. [1]

The definitions of social justice are far-reaching and ambiguous; problems are rife with translation into practical action. Social justice is a term bound by meaning and guided by tradition. Political theorists, psychologists, and social workers alike have discussed what it means to be in and between people, cultures, governments, and nations in the "right relationship". As researcher Patrick McCormick has said, "There is not even consensus as to whether democracy, equality, unity or the common good is the primary foundation on which to create the edifice of justice."[2]

Many social justice students understand its significance in terms of the conflicts between individual liberty and the general social good, arguing that social justice is promoted to the degree that we can support the greater good without violating certain individual liberties. Many claim that social justice represents a principle of equality in the distribution of human rights and duties, economic opportunities and social conditions.

Others frame the definition in terms of three components � legal justice that is about what people owe society; commutative justice that addresses what people owe each other; and distributive justice, or what society owes the individual. From a distributive point of view, which is most frequently referred to by social workers, social justice does not only involve approaches to social choices regarding the distribution of goods and resources, but also consideration of the structuring of societal institutions to guarantee human rights and dignity and ensure opportunities for free and meaningful social participation.

In Justice as Fairness: A Restatement, Rawls provides two basic principles of social justice, modified from his earlier work:
  • Each person has the same indefeasible claim to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic liberties, which scheme is compatible with the same scheme of liberties for all; and
  • Social and economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions: First, they are to be attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity, and second, they are to be to the greatest benefit of the least-advantaged members of society (the difference principle).[3]

Throughout the Industrial Revolution and subsequent democratic movements in Europe, social justice as a term emerged in the early 19th century, aimed at establishing more egalitarian communities and remedying capitalist exploitation of human labour. Early social justice activists focused mainly on money, land, and wealth distribution due to the clear stratifications between rich and poor during this period.

By the mid-20th century social justice had grown to include the environment, race, gender, and other causes and manifestations of injustice from being solely concerned with economics to include other areas of social life. At the same time, the social justice measure evolved from being calculated and implemented exclusively by the nation-state (or government) to include a universal human element. Governments (still today), for example, calculate income disparity among people who share a shared citizenship. But based on society social justice can also be considered. As the UN states: "Slaves, exploited workers and marginalized women are above all abused human beings whose position is of less significance than their circumstances."[4]

Factors That Challenge Social Justice:

The definition of social justice also requires a strong commitment to safeguarding human rights and civil liberties. Disabilities and concerns of other communities such as physically handicapped people, child labour, tribal and those impacted by environmental degradation also shape the social justice agenda. So those are the most important issues facing India. They are at the root of much of the political instability, social and ethnic tensions, as well as the rise of organized violence and the weakening of our country's democratic structures.

Though also co-dependent, social justice concerns can be delineated into two categories: Inter-Group Care and Unfair Government Control.[5]
  • Inter-Social Treatment

    It requires classification of a group(s) of other people based on perceptions and prejudices individually retained. Such biases occur most commonly in sociological categories such as:
    1. Race- Racial inequality is one of the most common social justice issues in the world. Most states have a history of racial discrimination and prejudice of some kind. It affects a racial group�s ability to find work, get access to healthcare, and receive an equal education.[6
    2. Age
    3. Religion
    4. Gender/sex- It will take 100 years for global gender equality to become a reality, as things stand. Obstacles such as gender pay gap, declining reproductive rights and unequal prospects for education hold women off. Social justice activists see gender equality as one of the most important social justice issues of our time which affects other issues such as racial equality.
    5. Sexual orientation- People in the LGBTQ+ community worldwide are faced with high rates of abuse and discrimination. It affects their ability to find jobs, housing, healthcare and protection among other challenges. It is more problematic in some states than in others, but social justice for the LGBTQ+ community is not well-established in even the most democratic countries.
    6. Education
    7. Physical or mental ability
    8. Nationality
      Society in this era of development, still discriminate people on basis of Inter-Social factors. People are divided on basis of their religion, are called names and even abused for belonging to a certain religion. Some religions are treated as unequal in the society and has been given a different social status. But the main factor for discrimination in this society has been that of gender/sex. Specially females, are discriminated in nearly all the work fields just because they are women. Women�s are deemed to be weaker and less efficient then men. Also, it is said that they are emotionally and mentally weaker than men, which is not the case always. There are many areas in which women are better than men. But, according to the society women are made for housework, they are no made for rigorous work as they have a different body structure, strength and capacity. There are many cases in todays world where women had been discriminated just because they were women. In an article by Nisha Biswas, oh Women, Tell Me, Are You A Women? [7], there are many examples of discrimination against women in the field of sports. Such as that of YE SHIEWEN, HELEN STEPHENS, DORA RATJEN, SANTHI, PINKY PRAMANIK etc.[8]

  • Unequal Government Regulation

    It includes laws and regulations that intentionally or otherwise establish circumstances that hinder, restrict or refuse a group(s) access to the same opportunities and services as the rest of society. Such laws may establish the conditions for social inequality deliberately (explicitly) or unconsciously (implicitly). The sectors in which various government policy often gives rise to social inequality and justice are:
    1. Education laws
    2. Health care laws
    3. Environmental laws
    4. Voting laws
    5. Policing laws
    6. Labour laws:
      Farmers-and peasants do not get far back anything from the jobs they do. The costs of their products, such as wheat, paddy, vegetables etc. have not increased in the amount of the goods produced in industry, such as soap, cosmetics, steel and other goods. Small shops can have millions of turnovers in places like metropolitans but farmers owning one hundred acres cannot afford to live the lives of a small businessman and servant of state. Our Governments are constantly under pressure from the World Bank and the developed countries to reduce the subsidies for fertilizers, pesticides and seeds, etc.

      It includes laws and regulations establishing circumstances intentionally or otherwise which impede, limit or deny groups access to the identical opportunities and services as the remaining society. Such laws can deliberately or unconsciously lay down the conditions for social inequality. The sectors in which many different governmental policies often give rise to social inequality includes laws like educational legislation, health care, environmental legislation, voting laws, labour law and political legislation.

Ideological And Social And Legal Perspective That Safeguard Social Justice

The problem of social justice is associated with social equality and the constitution makers were strongly affected by the feeling of social equality and social justice at the time of the independence. The terms, like Socialist, Secular, Democratic and Republic, were inserted in the Preamble for the same cause.

In the Preamble the term justice is clarified as legal, social, economic and political. The word justice is protected by various clauses of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles within the Constitution of India. Social justice denotes that all people are treated fairly without any social distinction. This ensures that the absence of privilege is limited to every specific segment of society and the conditions of poor classes (SCs, STs and OBCs) and women are strengthened. In line, economic justice denotes economic factors as the non-discrimination between men.

It includes removing conspicuous wealth, wages, and property inequalities. A blend of social justice and economic justice represents what is known as "distributive justice." The Preamble guarantees equality of rank and opportunities for all Indian people.

Social injustice is a critical problem in Indian society. The analysis of a society's social stratification based on either caste or class, is primarily concerned with the definition of inequality. Louis Dumont, a French sociologist, on a separate level explained 'inequality' in the caste system.

Bharat Ratna Babasaheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the Chief Architect of Constitution of India, is the man of millennium for social justice, in the sense that he became the deliverer of or the Messiah of the Dalits, the erstwhile untouchables, Other Backward Classes (OBCs), and women, constituting 95% of Hindu population.

That big segment of population had been forced to live at a sub-human level from time immemorial, under caste system, sanctioned by Hindu scriptures. He was the man of millennium for social justice, since he was the first man in history to successfully lead a tirade of securing social justice to the vast sections of Indian humanity, with the help of a law, which practically repealed the concerned portions of Hindu scriptures. [9]

India's Constitution has solemnly guaranteed all its people social, economic and political justice; freedom of expression of speech, belief, religion and worship; equality of status and opportunity; and the promotion of the dignity of the person and the unity of the community among all the fraternity. Through adding some specific clauses, the Constitution has sought to resolve the seemingly contradictory arguments of socio-economic justice and of individual freedom and constitutional rights.

Article which gives certain rights to citizens of this country are as follows:

  1. Article 15- As Article 15(1) forbids discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, the social problem posed by the presence of a very large number of people who are regarded as untouchable has received special attention from the Constitution. The State should have the power to make special arrangements for women and girls, and to promote any backward social and educational groups of people, or for the SC / STs.

  2. Article 16- In the same way as Article 16(4), the concept of equal opportunity imposed by Article 16(1) requires the State to provide for the resolution of appointments or posts in favour of any disadvantaged class of people who, in the view of the State, are not sufficiently represented in the services rendered by the State.

  3. Article 17- Article 17 states that untouchability has been abolished and prohibits its existence in any way whatsoever and provides that maintenance of untouchability is an offense punishable by law.

  4. Article 19- Article 19 enshrines the fundamental rights of the country's people. Article 19(1)'s seven sub-clauses guarantee seven separate kinds of independence for people and accept them as their constitutional rights.

  5. Article 23 & 24- Article 23 and 24 provide for fundamental rights against exploitation. Article 24 forbids an employer from hiring a child under the age of 14 in any factory or mine, or in any other hazardous jobs.

  6. Article 38- State to secure a social order for the promotion of welfare of the people.

  7. Article 39(a)- Certain principles of policy to be followed by the State: The State shall direct its policy towards securing that the citizens, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means to livelihood.

  8. Article 41- Right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases The State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want. (jurists)
These are some articles which guarantees for social justice for the people of this country. Also, it is the code of laws dealing with the question of attaining in this country the standard of socio-economic justice mandated by the Indian constitution.

Creative And Critical Suggestions To Safegaurd And Upheld Social Justice:

"Those closest to the problem are also closest to the solution." - Glenn E. Martin[10]

In today�s world, social injustice can be seen in any sphere of life, be it education or politics, labour or health care, environment or policy making, race or sex, religion or cast, age etc. Social justice has become an important topic for debate and discussion in today�s world as it affects the lives of the people. There are many ways in which one can try to safeguard and upheld social justice. Todays generation thinks in a very creative and innovative way, so one must need to come up with creative ideas and ways for suggestions.
  • Educate Yourself And People About A Particular Movement

    Make sure you understand what the cause is, and what it is trying to achieve before you get involved in any step. For example, if you are interested in climate justice, check out various UN sites and climate change organisation for information on existing campaigns and actions around the world, as well as key climate facts.

    It is a good idea to read books with more in-depth analysis of a particular social movement and the issues it grapples with after getting basic information online. For instance, books like This Changes Everything[11] by Naomi Klein for climate activism and The New Jim Crow[12] by Michelle Alexander or racial justice will help one for gaining deeper understanding and will help getting well equipped with important vocabulary and information.

  • Look Into The Local Prescence

    Building connections with other likeminded people is a great idea. Local activist group and community organizations and promoters often host open meetings and are eager to include new people. Becoming a member of a community will help one learn new things and keep one accountable to others.

    For instance, a social media platform,[13] is a great place for finding and meeting people about activism, politics and social justice. Also, if any person knows a specific organisation, he/she wants to work with, like the National Organisation for Women[14] etc. he/she should apply for it.

  • Taking Action In Your Society

    Glenn E. Martin, founder of JustLeadershipUSA - an organization in which people with a criminal history are at the forefront of the mission to end mass incarceration � believes people who want to get involved in a social justice movement can do the most effective work in their own communities.[15]

    Martin recommends sending letters to your elected officials or debating with friends on the campaign on ways to start participating locally. Maintaining issues of social justice such as mass incarceration as part of public discourse is important to bringing about change.

  • Using Social Media

    Social media is good place to practice activism, too. Posting articles, sharing videos and writing updates about organizing meetings or information about movement are all simple ways to share messages about movement with a wide audience. Various social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter etc. are popular in social justice communities. These social media platforms also act as a safe space to talk through issues you might not discuss in your everyday life.

  • Donate To An Influential Organisation

    If you cannot devote enough time to a campaign, or speak out confidently, you can still get involved. Every movement has different rates of involvement and one of them is donating money. Being an organization's paying leader, giving a small monthly contribution or sending in a lump-sum donation all count as participation in a social justice movement. Most social movements are sustained by non-profit organizations and volunteers, so even a small amount count.

Justice is the concept of fairness. Social justice is fairness as it manifests in society. That includes fairness in healthcare, employment, housing, and more. Discrimination and social justice are not compatible.

Social injustice is a critical problem in Indian society. The analysis of a society's social stratification based on either caste or class, is primarily concerned with the definition of inequality. Louis Dumont, a French sociologist, on a separate level explained 'inequality' in the caste system.

The solution to social inequality lies only within us. People should be mindful of the terms used by the disadvantaged, marginalized, social justice to weaken expectations, flout norms, and bring institutions to work. Despite the well-intentioned dedication to ensuring social justice by equalization or preventive discrimination policies, some friction in society has been created by government efforts. Even these practices which have little to do with social justice are done in the name of social justice.

The need of hour is to ensure the proper and balanced implementation of policies to make social justice an effective vehicle of social progress. While Liberalism puts freedom first it is conscious of the fact that such freedom is hollow unless it is accompanied by a sense of security and equality. A liberal social policy should aim at providing the most disadvantaged with access to opportunities and, at the same time create a social net that strengthens their ability to cope with crises.[16]


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