Social Justice and Community

Social justice is an ideal that places a premium value on equal treatment, equal rights, and a fair allocation of resources for all members of humanity. At the highest levels of society, the attempts at creating social justice come in the form of laws and policies. However, at the community level, social justice is fought for and defended by social workers and advocates who fight for those who may have been denied some sense of social justice.

Historical Perspective of Social Justice

In many ways, the modern ideal of social justice began with a movement during the 1960s, with Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society domestic programs. The overall objective was to rid the country of poverty while promoting equality, restoring run-down cities, protecting the environment and improving the quality of education.

The Great Society created career programs that promoted these ideals, particularly community health work jobs. This became formalized by the government when they passed the Federal Migrant Health Act of 1962 and the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. This gave rise to neighborhood community health centers.

Social Justice Advocacy Focus

Today, there has been increased attention to the counseling arena of social justice, but it needs to alter its course from a global perspective to a focused point. Practitioners need to apply social justice on issues of human rights and discrimination. They need to concentrate on particular settings, specifically in the area of psychology and other health industries. Social justice advocates are especially needed in rural communities and poor regions.

The literature makes it clear that there are small communities that share many similar characteristics with rural and poor areas. This means that certain general issues will be relevant to those who work with specific groups in exclusive settings like ethnic populations, military veterans, LGBT groups, women, and others that live in a particular region. We see this redefinition taking place today in communities across the country.

Community Health Workers

Health and social service systems within the community depend on community health workers to connect the disenfranchised underserved populations who are not adequately served by the social services departments. They are the frontline workers whose job it is to increase access to care and services including health education, medical procedures, immunizations, and other services that may be difficult to find in rural or remote areas.

Historically, social workers are the ones who attempt to help communities thrive, but today they are the central players in connecting people to vital services that exist to help economically, socially, and politically. Social workers serve as a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves.

Reaching the ideal of social justice is a tall order, and perhaps will never be completely realized; however, even the pursuit of social justice on a community level is worth the attempt since its results are generally positive. It improves the life and quality of those who are affected by policies and laws, but more importantly, the individuals whose lives are forever changed by one-on-one contact from a caring professional.

Are you ready to become an advocate for change? Learn more about earning an MSW Online from the University of New England.



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