The concept of social justice is fairly new and the historical origin is quite multi-faceted. The concept first surfaced from the Western parts of the world in the wake of the industrial revolution and the parallel development of the socialist doctrine which was in a form of protest against the capitalist exploitation of labour and as a focal point for the development of measures to improve the human condition.

The first modern usage of the specific term social justice is typically attributed to Catholic thinkers from the 1840s, including the Jesuit Luigi Taparelli in Civiltà Cattolica, based on the work of St. Thomas Aquinas. It is, however, apparent the fundamental belief underlying the social justice dates far back then the mid-1800s. From a religious point of view it is observed that almost all of the religions such as – Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism subscribes to beliefs of equal rights, act of kindness, fear treatment, justice etc. which can all be related to the notion of social justice.

Therefore, in a much broader sense, the belief of social justice can be comprehended as to the preservation of equality across the whole society in the way that people live and do certain things irrespective of their origin, sex, religion, belief and other factors that separate one another. Everyone in the society should be treated fairly and should be given the opportunity to develop themselves. From a rather economic point of view, the social justice would mean that the resource allocation within the whole society should be equal and people should have the minimum standard of living.

As can be observed around the world, that upholding social justice has remained the primary concern that attributed to the growing inequality across the nations and societies. This is more apparent in the underdeveloped countries where the poor remain poor and the rich becomes more reach. Largely, this can be attributed to the government’s role that has failed to ensure this which has resulted in a third sector to spring up to help reform the gap that divides the people within the society. The growing inequality due to the lack of social justice also creates more opportunities to be tackled by the third sectors which are often referred to as the social economy.

References and further reading:

Becker, G., & Murphy, K. (2009). Social economics: Market behavior in a social environment. London: Harvard University Press.

Jost, J. T., & Kay, A. C. (2010). Social justice: History, theory, and research. In Handbook of social psychology (9 ed., Vol. 1): Wiley online library.

Mill, J. S. (1863). Utilitarianism. London: Parker, Son and Bourn.

Morales, M., Knowles, E. C., & Bourg, C. (2014). Diversity, social justice, and the future of libraries. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 14(3), 439-451.

Woods, A., Dooley, K., Luke, A., & Exley, B. (2014). School leadership, literacy and social justice: The place of local school curriculum planning and reform. In International handbook of educational leadership and social (in) justice (pp. 509-520): Springer.