Social Justice - Paper Example

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Justice in the development context has always been carried out with a view of redistribution and the ultimate goal of instilling order. As an institutional system, justice has always been geared to promoting social order, punishing offenders of crime and also preventing the commissioning of crimes. The premise is to transform society in general to be useful. It is often viewed as a means to improve and implement laws. Thus, efforts are directed to increasing capacity of legal entities such as the courts and the police to enable access to justice. It also entails the redistribution of resources and the politics of recognition (Fraser 2009).

In the development context, justice has been used to analyze and describe different development discourses. However, changes in the western development discourse has always been explained under three political values of freedom and justice. Bjorn notes that the focus on one of these values has always led to the under-provision of the other. There is always a trade-off when fostering each of these values, such that when justice is being sought, there is an apparent limitation in freedom and liberation.

When analyzing the development-security discourse, the question of human security comes up. The UNDP human development report (1994) defines human security as safety from repression, hunger and disease. The report also showed links of how human development was aided by human rights. The discourse brings up an inherent need for the protection of humans both at the individual level and the state level in order to realize development. Justice, thus had to come into play in order to shield people from the security risks that hampered development. People faced threats to security in various contexts. The source of the threats emanated from their own governments, neighbors and foreign states. Thus, the application if justice ought to have wide application in these contexts. Justice as a value seeks to counter durable disorder in situations where people have gone archaic and lost control; thus hampering their security.

The era of absolutism in the European context also hampered justice. The system of absolutism implied that the economy was under the hands of the royal household. However, element of justice arose to articulate this issue to achieve redistributive justice. This was manifested in mercantilism which was largely concerned with balance of trade. Wealth was now viewed in the context of the society as a whole rather than in the hands of a few people.

The enlightenment discourse can also be analyzed with the value of justice. The enlightenment period was fueled by three key concepts; namely liberty, reason and progress. Key scholars in this period such as Turgot saw that that the disparities between societies were to be explained in terms of progress. The basic stages of economic progress included: hunting-gathering, agriculture and manufacturing. Adam Smith, a prominent economist fronted ideas that revolved around deregulation and the abolishment of the guild system which were seen to hamper progress in various societies. His remedy was free competition in markets so as to achieve division of labor and progress. In order for societies to develop, they needed to focus more on productivity as opposed to total production. On a justice perspective, this gave people more freedom to self-regulate themselves in markets rather than being coerced.

Marxism pessimism can also be said to have championed for justice. Where the relations of production was the ultimate factor determining material conditions, such a society was ill placed for development. The ideas of Karl Marx focused on ideas rather than classes as a factor for promoting development. The peasants were in no place to achieve material prosperity due to the social stratification and the unconducive production relations of the nobles. Socialism was the only way to achieve redistributive justice for society as opposed to capitalistic tendencies which only benefited a few. Marxism posits that social justice was only achievable through political activism and revolution. This revolution was to dismantle the class system and the oppression that came with it. This discourse fostered the ideals of communal ownership of property hence championing justice for the common man.

Thus, justice is seen as a crucial factor in development, whereby if it does not prevail, there are consequences. The true mark of any institution was the inclusivity of societies and the access to justice for all.

Colonialism as development

Colonialism can be understood through the activities of European expansion. European states were seeking to expand their territories and their empires by exploiting areas see to be ill exploited and ripe for improvement. When European states were expanding their territories, they settled in various areas around the globe, mostly Africa. They established rule in these settlements legitimately and embarked on activities that they deemed fit for improvement. They developed infrastructure that had close links to European trade. Improvement entailed increasing the economic output for the benefit of metropolitan markets and interests. Towards the nineteenth century, the European forces facilitated medical research in the colonial territories. This was in a bid to protect the health of settler populations, their armies and also the colonial servants. The change in climate had an adverse effect on the colonial masters due to tropical diseases. This motivated them to improve health care facilities in the colonial territories. On one perspective, it could be said that the colonial territories benefited in some way. They got some improved infrastructure and general improvement in social amenities. However, on the flip side, these improvements were not for the enjoyment of local communities. They were skewed to the interests of the European communities. Therefore, it had no impact improving the quality of life of the locals as per underpinnings of development.

Subsequently, a need arose for the emphasis of development that was focused on the local communities. This led to the rise of trusteeship. This was a system where the mission of the colonial administration was to civilize others (Power 2003). The others denoted here are the local native communities. They were perceived to be childlike and inexperienced. Thus, as a policy, trusteeship was meant to give them experience and strengthen them. This policy was later enshrined in colonial development acts.


The center stage for modern day interactions has rapidly shifted from the individual state to the global arena. This interactions are of political, economic and social nature. The resultant effect is a global shift to development in these specific areas. Globalization has seen to it that developing countries are now newly industrial countries. Production activities have now taken a global scale. Markets have expanded to the international arena whereas politics has also taken a global perspective. The linguistics of globalization revolve around global systems.

The forces of globalization have seen to it that the national market and economic ties between countries were the key drivers of development. This led to the focus of the state in international matters. However, on matters of sovereignty, the state slowly lost its relevance. The global market is central and thus every state had to play to the tune of the international community. This has led to development in key sectors so as to remain relevant in the modern day world.

The concepts of free trade and free market have been embraced across borders. This has led to free trade zones and the formation of export processing zones in developing countries. There has been an abundance increase of knowledge and information which has stimulated development.

However, globalization was seen as force that benefits the elite prior to the year 2000. This was in reference to large corporations. The poor were disadvantaged in this wave. Even so, with subsequent legislations, policies were formulated to have an all-inclusive and equitable growth across the social divides. This has led to high migration rates to developed countries as the poor sought greener pastures.

The underpinnings of globalization reflect the world system of connection in trade, investment and migration (Frank and Burry 1992).

Welfare and human rights

Human wellbeing is an important impetus for development. The physical and material needs of the human society inevitably have to be met. With the increasing global population, it has become of key concern coupled with issues of democracy, social justice, empowerment, and human dignity. The human rights discourse has been a catalyst of development. It has shaped development agendas and practices all over. As these rights are inalienable, development is sure to be fostered in to continuously uphold these rights.

The inalienability of human rights as stated in the UN declaration of human rights compels all entities, including governments to take a rights based approach to development. This has fostered development in areas where essential human needs are concerned. For example, the need for food. Since it is a basic need, efforts are directed to food security initiatives so that the populace can enjoy the sustainable food production. In the area of security, efforts are directed to protect the lives of humans in their respective abodes regardless of their ethnic, social or racial background.

Welfare and human rights has also seen to it that equality and equity prevail. Every human is entitled to their rights without discrimination. This entails fair allocation of resources for developmental purposes. Human rights has also fostered inclusion and participation in development process. For development to occur, the people have to identify by themselves their common issues of contention and form solutions by themselves to those issues. This is the hallmark of development.



Fraser, N. (2009) Social justice in the age of identity politics, Redistribution, recognition and participation, in Henderson, G. and Waterstone, M. (eds.) Geographic Thought: A Praxis Perspective. Oxon: Routledge

Freire, P. (1996) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. London: Penguin Books Ltd. Ginwright, S., Cammarota, J. and Noguera, P. (2005) Youth, social justice, and communities: toward a theory of urban youth policy, in Social Justice. Criminal Justice Periodicals.

Healy, K. and OPrey, M. (2011) Taking a Social Justice Approach to Community Development. Belfast: The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland

Freire, P. (1996) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. London: Penguin Books Ltd


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