Social Justice Theme
Durham Theme Leader: Sarah Banks
Introduction to the social justice theme
Social justice is about fairness in the social arrangements for the allocation of goods and harms between people (including future people). It is a contested concept, as there are many different interpretations of what counts as ‘goods' and ‘harms' and what counts as ‘fairness' (for example, distribution according to free market principles, judgements based on need or on equality of opportunity).
What is social justice in the context of the Beacon for Public Engagement?
In the context of the work of the Beacon for Public Engagement, social justice has been described as a cross-cutting theme. This means that when working on the two core themes (energy and environment, and lifespan and ageing) questions about the allocation of goods and harms should be an integral part of the discussions. For example, a Beacon group working on the theme of energy might consider not only the contribution of fossil fuel use to global warming, but also whether and how the use of fuel should be rationed by governments and what might be the consequences for the poorest in society. A group exploring the needs of the growing numbers of older people in Britain, might also consider what free social care the state should provide for older people. A concern for social justice should also guide the choice of places where the Beacon operates and people to whom it relates. Are we operating in localities where issues of poverty, poor housing and poor access to services are apparent? Are we reaching a range of people, including those who may not traditionally get involved in public debate or higher education and/or who may face discrimination in society (for example, young and older people, people with disabilities, asylum seekers and refugees, people from minority ethnic groups and faiths)?