Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Social Justice in the News

Simply scanning the internet this morning brings important questions of social justice and the common good to the forefront. Questions about addressing racism are being asked in Saskatoon and Winnipeg, Tim Harper wonders when Canada will finally have a serious discussion about climate change, 17,000 workers face dim employment prospects after Target's decision to close its Canadian operations, while Winnipeg struggles to provide the necessities of life to its citizens.   This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg.  What issues of social justice and the common good are you seeing in the news?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Immigration and the Common Good

There is no question that immigration plays a central role in any country that claims to be open, free and democratic.  In Canada, immigration has become vital to maintaining the overall standard of living while contributing to a culture that officially celebrates multicultural diversity.  While there are many issues that arise from Canada's policy of multiculturalism (i.e. is it a policy that celebrates diversity or a tool of assimilation?) the general consensus is that those wishing to immigrate to Canada should be given the means to do so in a fair and equal way.  It is thus somewhat surprising that Canada is now officially experimenting with an immigration policy that fast tracks immigration files based on significant amounts of money.  You can read about that here.  What does this policy tell the world about immigration to Canada? Does it contribute to social justice or the common good? Or is it, as the story suggests a "cash for citizenship" policy that favours people based on wealth?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Student Blog #1: Social Justice and Women in Politics

Regular readers will know that this blog is tied to INTS 400, Critical Perspectives on Social Justice and the Common Good at St. Thomas More College.  As part of this year's class, students are asked to keep a weekly journal where they think critically about Social Justice and the Common Good through their observations of the world around them.  Each week, a student from our class will be contributing one of those journal entries to our Blog.  Below is the first entry by Srini Samarawickrama who is raising critical questions about the role of women in public life.

Social Justice, the Common Good and Women in Politics  

The concepts of social justice and the common good are widely debated. Everyone has different thoughts as to what makes a just or good society.

I think that a just society includes equality and opportunity for everyone without any bias or discrimination. One of the issues that frustrated me for a long time is the underrepresentation of women in politics. I believe that there is gender bias and gender discrimination in the general world of politics, which extends to biases surrounding how society views political leadership and political decision-making.

I often feel that women in powerful leadership positions are treated as if they are somehow a threat to the society. I have noticed that men are often considered to be better (or stronger) leaders because women are considered to be indecisive and nurturing. There also seems to be societal friction when women try to become equals to men in the political or business worlds.

Women face more obstacles and barriers when it comes to pursing a career in politics. The first barrier is the underrepresentation of women engaged in politics. I believe that this sometimes discourages other women from participating in politics. Second, the underrepresentation of women reinforces the false perception that men have more political leadership capabilities than women.  I believe this is fundamentally wrong.

I believe the underrepresentation of women in politics can change if women themselves are willing to challenge the barriers to participating in politics.  To accelerate this change, society should encourage more women to become involved in politics, while education at both the secondary and post-secondary level should highlight and explain the barriers to women participating in politics.  In doing so, women will be both individually empowered and collectively given positive reinforcement to engage in a political career. They will also be empowered to participate in political parties or simply to act politically themselves.

Such changes would be a common good for all women and would certainly lead to a more just society.

- Srini Samarawickrama

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Life-Grounded Materialism and Work

In our readings this week, Jeff Noonan argues that culture can only be understood within the complex social interactions that comprise the human labour process.  My reading of that argument (as it relates to human justice or the good) suggests that cultural norms and values are built up around a division of labour that justifies and then reinforces societal knowledge (or common-sense).  If this is true, how does a liberal culture justify or normalize a monetary buy-out to a failed business-leader that matches more or less the monetary buy-out to 17,000 (of its now dismissed) employees?  Read that story here.

Using Noonan's Life-Grounded Materialism, how would you respond to this story?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Crisis of Homelessness

Social Justice and the Common Good Students (INTS 400) should read Jordon Cooper's column on homelessness in yesterday's Saskatoon Star Phoenix.  He will be our guest on Thursday and will likely have much to say on this topic.  You can read it here.  What are ways that governments can end homelessness?  What would a just and fair solution look like?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Inequality is growing around the world

Today, the social justice organization Oxfam has released a report stating that global inequality is growing.  You can read about the report here.  According to media coverage, Oxfam reports that the wealthiest 1% will own 50% of the world's wealth by 2016.  These numbers are quite staggering. What are the social and political consequences of these trends?  What does it mean for social justice and the common good?