Social justice and equity
What is social justice and equity?
"Equity derives from a concept of social justice. It represents a belief that there are some things which people should have, that there are basic needs that should be fulfilled, that burdens and rewards should not be spread too divergently across the community, and that policy should be directed with impartiality, fairness and justice towards these ends." (Falk et al, 1993, p.2)
Social justice, which is considered a central part of sustainability in most countries, includes meeting basic human needs and concern for the rights, dignity, and welfare of all people. It includes respect for the traditions and religions of other societies and cultures, and it fosters empathy for the life conditions of other peoples. Ecological sustainability and resource conservation are considered part of social justice. Preserving and conserving the resource base of others prevents people from living in disadvantaged circumstances. Social justice concerns related to preservation of resources (e.g., fossil fuels, old-growth forests, and species diversity) extends to future generations; this is called intergenerational equity.
Key questions for this area
If you are teaching or studying in the area of social justice and equity, or looking to add content into your unit, here are some key questions you should be able to answer and/or consider:
- What are the concepts of intra- and inter- generational equity?
- What do present generations owe to the future?
- Where does inequality exist in our society?
- Many everyday products we purchase and consume are the result of cheap or even slave labour. How can we address this?
- What forms of inequality currently exist in society?
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