Social justice and democracy are two tenets dominating nations and governments of the world today. Its roots are deeply embedded in many societies and in most people’s consciousness. Democracy is a very popular term and has been universally regarded as a ‘good thing’ (Heywood, 2002, p. 68). Social justice is a guiding principle of many countries on what policies to create aiming at augmenting social equity to its citizens. It means having equal rights and services with other citizens. This paper would explore the different people’s perception of the two concepts then compare and contrast their notions. Dialogues were conducted with three separate groups of people. They were asked regarding an inquiry of “What do social justice and democracy mean to you?” The dialogues became engaging only for some, which might imply the disinterest of many people in the topic. Nevertheless, the concept of social justice and democracy is very common and well known among the populace.
A group of bystanders in a local convenience store were asked. They perceived of social justice and democracy as necessary for any society. They think of it as a form of government in which the people rule. Their only notion of the practice of democracy is by participating in elections. They value the two concepts in terms of freedom they enjoy from the current political situation of the country. This group only has the basic ideas of the concepts.
For a group of teachers in a public school, social justice and democracy come together. They deemed it necessary for a democratic government to uphold social justice. For them, a democratic government should create a scheme of welfare for its citizens aimed at curtailing down social inequalities. They noted that these principles should not be used to justify a country’s war on other countries as it is being used today. The teachers are well verse regarding the two concepts.
An academic club of students deemed democracy crucial for the proper functioning of their organization. They practice democratic principles and processes in many aspects of their organization such as decision-making. As for social justice, these concepts guide them in providing equity among their members. They further discussed that social justice and democratic principles are important for any organization, government, nations and other entities. They argued that, the promotion of social justice and the practice of democracy in our everyday lives would make a better society and that it is for the good of all. However, they said that unfortunately many governments were not practicing these two tenets. They cited this as a reason why poverty is still rampant around the globe and violation of human rights are still present. They even noted that politically violence is still common in developing countries in coercing the people.
All these groups have a positive outlook towards these two concepts and none showed pessimism. This supports Heywood’s idea that democracy is universally, a ‘good thing’. It is their common belief that these principles, if uphold by the government, would guarantee civil rights and protect the interest of the people. The group of bystanders reflected the two concepts as only associated with the government, or these are terms only for the government. They think of it as a character governments should have. At the maximum, they think that their only involvement or relation with democracy and social justice is through elections. The group of teachers has established a direct linkage between social justice and democracy by establishing that a democratic government promotes social justice by creating policies aimed at narrowing down social inequalities. The student organization has presented more practical ideas over the other groups by applying the concepts in their day to day activities of their organization such as decision making. Moreover, they have cited concrete manifestations of the practice or non-practice of the two concepts. Social justice and democracy are two principles that most people value significantly.
Heywood, Andrew. Politics, An Introduction 2nd edition. New York: Palgrave MacMillan: 2002
What is Social Justice? July 24, 2007. http://www.dreamtime.net.au/indigenous/social.cfm