Social Justice: Theories, Issues, and Movements

By Loretta Capeheart; Dragan Milovanovic | Go to book overview
Save to active project


Distributive Justice

A SOCIAL THEORY OF DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE must engage societal and historical developments in the formation of conceptions of justice. In other words, to come to some understanding as to what is seen as just or unjust we must look to historical developments and how justice notions arrive at some general understanding and acceptance. Distributive justice has to do with notions of fairness in the distribution of benefits and burdens in a society (Miller 1999, 2). Notions of distributive justices move from the grand theoretical narratives of justice toward more concrete understandings of justice. Depending on the particular construction, ideas of fairness and benefits vary. Accordingly, our understanding of social justice includes understanding distributive principles (fair allocation of rewards and burdens) and retributive principles (appropriate responses to harm); how they relate to political economy and historical conditions; their local and global manifestations; the struggle for their institutionalization; how human well-being and development at the social and individual levels are enhanced by their institutionalization; and developing evaluative criteria or processes by which their enhancement or denial result.


Emile Durkheim (1858–1917)

Durkheim's influential writings focused on the nature of social solidarity. He found that the existing form of law was an index to the kind of solidarity in existence. He identified two forms of solidarity. These two forms of solidarity— mechanical (based on similarity) and organic (based on differences)—were situated in historical developments. He theorized that society tended to develop toward ever more differentiation. The key factor for social differentiation (e.g., division of labor in society) was moral/social density. A society, without any disturbance from external factors (political, economic, etc.), was to naturally progress from the less differentiated form (e.g., less division of labor), with a consequent premium on mechanical bonds of solidarity, to a greater differentiation and organic bonds of solidarity. This was the course of the spontaneous division of labor.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Social Justice: Theories, Issues, and Movements


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 258

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?