Social Justice and People of Faith: A Transnational Perspective

By Hodge, David R. | Social Work, April 2007 | Go to article overview

Social Justice and People of Faith: A Transnational Perspective


Hodge, David R., Social Work


Social justice is a central social work value (NASW, 2000). Although no single, agreed-on conceptualization of social justice exists (Sterba, 1999), the construct has been associated with a wide variety of populations and perspectives. For instance, the intersection between social justice and race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, and class has been widely discussed (Thompson, 2002). More recently, the literature has featured examinations of social justice and international adoptions (Hollingsworth, 2003), probation services (Smith & Vanstone, 2002), Tibetan immigrants (Nassar, 2002), mental health (Sheppard, 2002), late-fife care (Johnson, 2002), marginalized South Asian children (O'Kane, 2002), and education for undocumented families (Belanger, 2001).

Largely absent from the social work literature on social justice, however, has been any similar discussion of religion. An examination of Social Work Abstracts using the keywords "religion" or "spirituality" and "social justice" revealed no articles designed to equip social workers to challenge social injustice in the area of religion, a finding consistent with studies indicating that most social workers have received little, if any, content on religion and spirituality during their graduate educations (Canda & Furman, 1999; Murdock, 2004).

The paucity of literature represents a significant oversight given the growing professional interest in religion and spirituality (Canda & Furman, 1999; Cnaan, Wineburg, & Boddie, 1999; Derezotes, 2006; Hodge, 2005). The extant research has suggested that most social workers are interested in addressing religion in their practices, underscoring the need for material on social justice (Canda & Furman; Derezotes, 1995; Murdock, 2004; Sheridan, 2004). Furthermore, and perhaps most important, social workers have an ethical duty to address religiously based social injustice (NASW, 2000, Standards 1.05a, b, c; 2.01b; 4.02; and 6.04d).

Therefore, this article represents an initial step in helping social workers challenge social injustice on behalf of what some refer to as "people of faith" individuals who adhere to the mainstream tenets of their respective faith traditions (French, 2002; Hertzke, 2003). In keeping with the Code of Ethics's injunctions, I have adopted a transnational perspective.

DEFINING SOCIAL JUSTICE: A HUMAN RIGHTS FRAMEWORK

As implied earlier, social justice is a highly contested construct (Boucher & Kelly, 1998). Although the term is widely used, there is little agreement regarding what the concept signifies or how it should be operationalized (Reisch, 2002). Observers have noted that a wide variety of types (Chatterjee & D'Aprix, 2002), perspectives (Van Soest & Garcia, 2003), and conceptualizations (Sterba, 1999) of social justice exist.

One method that has been used to anchor the construct is human rights (Caputo, 2001; George, 1999; O'Kane, 2002; Queiro-Tajalli, McNutt, & Campbell, 2003; Stainton, 2002), with some commentators reporting that this understanding is gaining ground as a framework for understanding social justice (Reichert, 2003; Van Soest & Garcia, 2003). Within this framework, human rights are commonly defined as those characteristics that are necessary for us to live as human beings (United Nations [UN] Association in Canada, 1995). Human rights flow from the fact that all human beings have inherent dignity and worth. As these rights are grounded in the human condition, they are universal, applying equally to all human beings around the world, independent of their recognition in law. Social justice is exhibited by working to ensure that human rights are respected, nationally and internationally.

In keeping with the contested nature of social justice, the human rights framework is not without critics. Perhaps the most significant criticism has come from postmodern conceptualizations of social justice (Sterba, 1999). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

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.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

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

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Social Justice and People of Faith: A Transnational Perspective
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

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?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

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

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

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.