Social justice refers to the need to achieve an equitable distribution of the social assets, thus ensuring the dignity of all people and social cohesion. Social justice is understood on two fronts. On the one hand, it is a principle of social life that guides both the individual action and the action of institutions in a political community. On the other hand, it is a characteristic of people’s way of being, according to which they act in accordance with the conviction of always respecting other people’s dignity. In both cases, the premise is the acceptance of the common good prevailing over the private interest and that is deployed in a triple dimension:
It implies real and sufficient effective mechanisms to redistribute the wealth in order to guarantee the minimum material conditions for everyone to be able to exercise their basic freedoms (expressed in the Human Rights).
It likewise supposes social dynamics of recognition of the difference thus deploying a potential for integrating and repairing non-tangible injustices that strengthen the ties of the political community.
Finally, it calls for growing opportunities to participate in the differentcontexts of the common activity, thus encouraging both individual development and the development of the political community on the basis of the mutual recognition of common dignity.
The implications on the behaviours of the three stakeholders (individuals, civil society organisations and public institutions) promoting the “social justice” value are of different nature and extent.
Fair citizenry can first be expected to have the maturity required for public interest to prevail over the private, seeking those relations that foster the recognition of the other, of their dignity and of their participation capacity on a level playing field. They are also expected to renounce their positions of privilege, along with being clearer aware of knowing how to be interdependent with other citizens and co-author with them the type of power relations that do not damage basic freedoms and their material conditions.
The same awareness of the common good prevailing over the private interest is expected of them. They are asked to specially care for common rights, particularly with regard to guaranteeing the material conditions that allow the exercising of basic freedoms. They are able to implement actions to correct inequality (both material and recognition) and the cultivating of collaborative social relations where the gains of some of them should never be based on the expulsion, exclusion, discrimination or the insufficient recognition of the dignity of the other citizens. Those behaviours apply both locally and globally.
This is the most clearly political and collective level of social justice as a model for relations among the citizens as regards power and its exercising. The duty of this institution, above all, pertains to designing public policies and preparing the appropriate legislation to minimise the structural injustice both at local level. Its work must also foster dynamics of social recognition that make the invisible visible, along with promoting participation, procuring the fostering and prevalence of the common good with socially discerned criteria, focusing on the different legitimate interests on a level playing field.