Social Interventions and Justice

Part of the International Perspectives on Social Policy, Administration, and Practice book series (IPSPAP)


An important aspect of the community-based philosophy is the issue of justice. This theme was first relevant during the 1960s, when communities were demanding to be treated with dignity. Both around the world and in the USA, demonstrations erupted against the war in Vietnam and many types of discrimination. More recently, however, the topic of justice arose within the context of globalization (Nussbaum, Oxford Development Studies 32(1):3–18, 2004). Many of the protests against this economic and cultural trend have had the retrieval of justice as their key principle. The charge of these movements is that globalization has created a situation where justice has little value. As a result of certain economic policies, the social world seems to be a very hostile and unequal place. For example, vital institutions appear to cater mostly to the rich, while the gap between this class and the rest, in most societies, is expanding (Smart, Economy, culture, and society: A critique of neo-liberalism, 2003). The basic organizations of society are beyond the control of most persons. And as mentioned in the introduction to this book, a credibility gap is prevalent that fosters cynicism and withdrawal. Many communities are caught in the midst of this process and are beginning to deteriorate. And similar to the 1960s, these groups are seeking dignity and some control over their lives (Piven and Cloward, Poor people’s movements, 1979). But a new wrinkle has appeared in this argument. The proponents of change contend that the usual response to this condition is insufficient. That is, the standard forms of charity are considered to be demeaning and ineffective, since this reaction is mostly personal and emotional, with few, if any, obligations. Indeed, charity represents acts of kindness that often require little more than expressions of concern about the condition of many unfortunate persons. In this regard, universal benevolence is deemed to be sufficient to solve the ills related, for example, to poverty or the absence of health care (Tronto, Moral boundaries: A political argument for an ethic of care, 1993).


Justice vs. charity Liberation Globalization and loss of dignity Humanistic development Kantian maxim Utopianism Embodied morality 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA

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