Social justice is the justice that is implemented in a society. It is mainly applied to the diverse social classes in the society. This paper explains how people’s struggle of social justice through social movements can bring about change in the society and how those in power and the ordinary people view social order and social change.
People’s struggle for social justice through social movements has been considered by many sociologists to one of the many agents of social transformation. The idea of social movements as agents of historical change can be seen in different variations in the work of many scholars such as Touraine. The emergence, dynamics, and development of social movements can signal transformation processes socially and globally. The movements themselves are seen as indicators of society’s circumstances, and capable of affecting structural changes in the social and political realm (Jones 2011). In the twentieth century, three momentous events contributed to the significance of people’s struggle for social justice through movements. First, the two world wars, and the rise of the fascist and communists movements; second the dissolution of the colonial world, and the emergence of various numbers of social movements; and third, the acceleration of the globalization process, and the consequent rise of transitional social movements.
Social movements play a pivotal role in creating knowledge and new lessons for global learning, indeed, social movements lie at the heart of social change. Social movements hold unique potential to foster social and global transformation because they have the following characteristics: space for cognitive practice (space for dialogue and debate); incubation capacity (pace that promote learning and growth); and the capacity to create epistemic communities (communities of interest or ideology). Within social movement processes knowledge and social learning strategies are created and negotiated. It is these processes as a result of the people’s struggle for social justice through movements that have a profound impact on social and global change. The role of educator in these processes is that of facilitator, knowledge-gatherer, and resource person, bringing unique skills to help the society to take action themselves. Conflict theory and functionalist theories clearly explain how both the ordinary people and those in powerful positions in the society perceive the issues of social order and social change (Giugni 1999).
Conflict theory is derived from the works of Karl Marx. He was of the view that the society is split into groups that are always competing for economic and social resources. Social order is observed by domination, with all power entrusted to those with greatest economic, political and social resources. When there is agreement, it is attributable to individuals being united by common interests, regularly in opposition to the other groups. According to this theory, inequity exists those in charge of an uneven share of assets passionately protect their advantages (Kornblum, & Smith 2011).
The populous is not tied to the society by the values they share, but by coercion by those in power. Individuals and groups in power only advance their own agendas, competing for control of the society’s resources. This leads to inequality as a result of the people in power dominating the ordinary people (Andersen,Taylor & Khalfani, Akil 2007). The ordinary people believe that social inequity hinders the society’s progress and those who are given powerful positions in the society tend to oppress the less fortunate people in order to preserve their positions.
Functionalism has its origins in the work of Durkheim. It interests how society interprets each part of the society in terms of how it ensures the stability of the whole. The theory conceptualizes the society as more than the sum of its parts. Each part is functional to the society-that is, it contributes to the stability as a whole. The functionalist framework emphasizes the consensus and order that exist in a society, focusing on social stability and shared public values (Johnson 2008). From a functionalist view, disorganization in the system, such as deviant behavior, leads to change because communal workings must change in order to attain stability. This is the perspective held by those in power with regard to social order and social change.
Social movements have imperative consequences. It makes sense to view social movements as part of normal democratic political process only if they achieve their goals. The interests of many scholars in social movements come from the belief that movements represent an important force for social change. On the other hand, social movements seldom have an impact because democracy works so poorly. It is also said that they at times fail to have little impact because democracy works well Press (Miller, & Kirkland 2010).
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Jones, P., Bradbury, L., & Le, B. S. (2011). Introducing social theory. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Miller, & Kirkland, D. E. (2010). Change matters: Critical essays on moving social justice research from theory to policy. New York: Peter Lang.
Andersen, M. L., Taylor, H. F., & Khalfani, Akil Kokayi. (2007). Sociology: The essentials. Mason, OH: Thomson Wadsworth.
Kornblum, W., & Smith, C. D. (2011). Sociology in a changing world. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Johnson, D. P. (2008). Contemporary sociological theory: An integrated multi-level approach. New York: Springer.