During this essay I will be drawing from Chapters 1 and 3 from Social Justice Welfare Crime and Society and Chapter 4 DVD1 to discuss some different types of evidence about social injustice.
The first example I am going to use is that from an extract from Book 1, Social Justice, Chapter 1, Extract 1.2, Mandela 1995, p83. Here Mandela gives a personal account of when he was training to be a lawyer and what social injustice he came across by way of discrimination. On the day that Mandela started his new job he was introduced to his office by a white secretary and to a fellow black colleague Gaur. Mandela was taken to one side and told that there was no colour bar at the law firm. The secretary then when on to say that that at mid morning there would be a tea break and that new cups had been purchased for himself and Gaur When the tea break came Mandela’s colleague decided not to use one of the two new cups provided but instead choose one of the old cups.
Mandela however chose to decline and be impartial in order to neither alienate himself or offend. This could in fact have been Mandela’s source of justice for the injustice which had just been encompassed upon him. It could however also be said that the way Gaur dealt with the situation could be his own way of getting back at the secretary who had served him with this injustice and he could have thought the actions he gave was his own form of justice to himself. This sort of injustice is both discrimination and a form of disadvantage. This evidence used is by way of personal testimony, quantitive data.
The second example is that Extract 1.2, page 9. The extract tells of a woman Lillie Mae Bedford who suffered a social injustice nearly 60 years ago and which is still affecting her today. This lady was charged with disordly conduct for sitting in a white only seat on an Alabama bus back in 1951. This lady is still awaiting a pardon for this today. Unfortunately Bradford is still carrying the weight of this today. Not only did it affect her by having a criminal record but this meant that she was unable to apply for certain jobs as she had a police record. In fact, this form of injustice happened to another lady ‘Rosa Parks‘ a few years later, and her arrest provoked a bus boycott. This sort of injustice lead to a protest that whilst was initially defined as illegal went on to result in the law to be changed.
This saw the beginning of the end for segregation and she became a civil rights icon. This also opened up questions on the relationship between justice, the law and the state. The law at the time was a powerful body of the state that that embodied certain ideas of what was just and unjust at certain times and certain places and that was reinforced with criminal justice bodies, i.e. the police, courts etc. The state does not just reflect these notions, it also creates them. However, these legal ideas of justice are not shared by everyone. Due to the way society reacted to both Bradford’s and Rosa Parks, the law was changed. This shows that the laws were not only changeable but also contestable.
Many people face tough restrictions in entering another country in today’s world. Once entered into another country there are further controls and restrictions that migrants face. They can be by way of registration and the need to prove their identity and residence status. there has always been attempts to control immigration but in today’s society more than ever. Over more recent years new laws and restrictions have been introduced to control immigration. In chapter 4 of the DVD it gives audio recorded whereby immigrants are trying to enter one of the Spanish Islands illegally via boats, surf boards and even been known via refrigerator. Whilst of course this is illegal there is also a responsibility of ensuring that these immigrants are rescued and safely returned to shore. Jose Antonio, DVD 1, Chapter 4, discusses an incident where the Spanish Coastguards were informed that there were over 400 boats which had left Africa and where heading for Spanish waters.
Illegal immigrants died in this journey over whilst others were left dehydrated in boats. Crime prevention clearly runs along side social welfare. Crime prevention is brought about by attempting to stop the immigrants getting into foreign countries where they are not permitted to without the correct documentation, passports etc. Crime prevention has been set up by way of border controls in all countries to attempt to stop all illegal immigrants. If border controls were removed then there would surely be a vast increase in immigrants entering illegally.
Whilst crime prevention is much and must needed aspect of society this clearly entangles itself with the fact that social welfare towards immigrants is a human right. What starts as border control, crime prevention, quickly crosses over into being a salvage operation, social welfare. Clearly here the immigrants face an injustice not only because of their nationality but probably because of their social class as the majority of immigrants are looked on as lower class, possibly being having to be looked after by the state. An injustice has occurred here as their social welfare has not been addressed but crime control has by laws that have been put into existence by exercising control over those (immigrants) that threaten to disrupt what the state saw just and lawful.
The final example I am using is that of injustice through work and that of harm through gender. Woman are particularly exposed to harm in the workplace particularly those from socially lower economic backgrounds and ethnic minorities. These women tend to have less choices about their working conditions and end up working for less pay, manually heavier jobs and longer hours. Barbara Ehrenreich (2002) carried out a study in America relating to living on a minimum wage. Enrenreich’s study offered an insight to the way these women had to live, the long hours they worked for little money and the demanding efforts they faced on a day to day basis. Unfortunately these women continued to work in these unjust conditions despite injury through fear of loss of pay. These workers were vulnerable.
Their basic rights were abused, these women were often controlled by way of punishments made to them in their employment, no talking policies, having their work rotas re-scheduled at short notice etc. Whilst entering into paid work for these women and enabling them to develop new capabilities and social relationships it also noted it was a source of harm. Enrenreich’s study also raises questions in respect of dependence and independence – not only between employee and employer but also a dependence for women on low wages and the difficulties that they face and the fact they this could lead t further economic independence and quality of life. Whether this entangled into crime, I would say not really as laws are put in place to protect women albeit personally, unjust. The laws are governed and re-readdressed even if not everyone shares their values on what is right and just. This form of evidence is by way of case study.
Finally to give a brief conclusion about what I understand of social justice and social injustice. I understand that Social Justice is justice which is experienced within a society of various social classes. A socially just society is based on the principles of equality which both understands and values human rights based on the concept of human rights as income re-distribution, property re-distribution, progressive taxation and equality between men/women, disabled or able bodied to name a few examples. Social justice is one of both contestable and changeable. Social injustice is really just the opposite of the above. An injustice is claimed to be an unfairness within society/a wrong doing.
Social injustice arises when the distribution of advantages and disadvantages in society is not equal. Big groups/large powerful organisations are often more powerful, more influential than that of a smaller group therefore often being responsible for many injustices however, these are often ignored by both the social welfare and criminal system. This to is also ever changeable and contestable. The evidence that I have used about is mostly that of quantitive data by use of both personal testimonials and case study. I used this sort of data as the examples I have used are from peoples injustices through their experiences they have lived and I feel personal testimonies would be more affective.
Courtney from Study Moose
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