Social Justice: Theories, Issues, and Movements

Social Justice: Theories, Issues, and Movements

Social Justice: Theories, Issues, and Movements

Social Justice: Theories, Issues, and Movements


An eye for an eye, the balance of scales--for centuries, these and other traditional concepts exemplified the public's perception of justice. Today, popular culture, including television shows like Law and Order, informs the public's vision. But do age-old symbols, portrayals in the media, and existing systems truly represent justice in all of its nuanced forms, or do we need to think beyond these notions?

In Social Justice: Theories, Issues, and Movements, Loretta Capeheart and Dragan Milovanovic respond to the need for a comprehensive introduction to this topic. The authors argue that common conceptions of criminal justice--which accept, for the most part, a politically established definition of crime--are too limited. Instead, they show the relevancy of history, political economy, culture, critique, and cross-cultural engagement to the advancement of justice.

Drawing on contemporary issues ranging from globalization to the environment, this essential textbook--ideal for course use--encourages practitioners, reformists, activists, and scholars to question the limits of the law in its present state in order to develop a fairer system at the local, national, and global levels.


Criminal justice programs emerged, mainly from sociology departments, in the early 1960s. At that time in the United States the three major higher degree granting programs were John Jay College of Criminal Justice at New York City, where faculty were predominantly more conservative and were past or current practitioners in criminal justice; the School of Criminal Justice at the State University of New York at Albany, which established the Albany Model based on vigorous scholarly analysis of criminal justice; and the criminology department at the University of California at Berkeley, which included a core group of Marxist-oriented faculty such as Tony Platt, Paul Takagi, and Herman and Julia Schwendinger. The latter Ph.D. program was closed under Governor Reagan in the early 1970s, with many faculty, students, and scholars around the world arguing it was a case of repression directed toward the activism and leftist politics of a number of members in the department. In the late 1980s we began to see the establishment of more master's and doctorate granting programs as a response to the tremendous interest for more advanced education. In the early 1990s students had a number of Ph.D. granting programs in criminal justice to choose from.

In the mid 1990s, however, much unrest developed in scholarly circles interested in crime, responses, causation, and prevention. Many would grumble that criminal justice was not what they did in their colleges and universities. It was too narrow. It focused on the individual outside of context. It did not situate the field in a broader political economic field and in historical contexts. There were no texts to capture this sentiment. The notion of an introduction to social justice was often discussed in hallway meetings, at annual conferences, and in private conversations. A few universities did respond. Such was the case with the School of Justice and Social Inquiry Department at Arizona State University and the Justice Studies Program at Northeastern Illinois. Police departments, too, were becoming more interested in police officers with broader backgrounds in their higher education.

In the Canadian context, developments have culminated in the early 2000s in such programs as the Centre for Studies in Social Justice at the University of Windsor and the Justice Studies Program and Human Justice . . .

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