What Is Social Justice?

Social justice is a political and philosophical concept which holds that all people should have equal access to wealth, health, well-being, justice, and opportunity. 

Understanding Social Justice

Social justice is a broad concept that is not limited to any specific religious or political movement. It is generally associated with the political left, and in the U.S. its advocates are found mainly in the Democratic party, particularly in the party's self-identified progressive and socialist wings. Progressives and socialists who do not associate with the Democratic party (independents, Greens and others) also commonly employ the term.

Every major religion contains at least one social justice movement: liberation theology, a movement that originated among Latin American Catholics, is one of the most famous.

Self-identified advocates of social justice are often at odds with one another over specific policies and priorities, but share a broad vision of an ideal society in which no one race, class, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or language group is singled out for oppression or enjoys special privileges.

All major religions have at least one social justice movement, such as liberation theology, which was started by Latin American Catholics.

In the U.S., for example, progressives often push for reform of the criminal justice system, which they believe has been unduly harsh on people of color (particularly blacks and Latinos). They also criticize the healthcare system, which they think neglects women, the poor, immigrants, and people of color. They advocate for reform of the immigration system, arguing that it keeps millions of families from realizing their full potential, and for equal pay for equal work, which they believe women and people of color have been denied.