Why Social Justice Matters

By Brian M. Barry

64 ratings - 3.63* vote

In the past twenty years, social injustice has increased enormously in Britain and the United States, regardless of the party in power. At the same time, the idea of social justice itself has been subverted, as the mantras of personal responsibility and equal opportunity have been employed as an excuse for doing nothing about the enrichment of the few at the expense of the In the past twenty years, social injustice has increased enormously in Britain and the United States, regardless of the

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Book details

Paperback, 323 pages
March 4th 2005 by Polity Press

(first published February 28th 2005)

Original Title
Why Social Justice Matters
0745629938 (ISBN13: 9780745629933)
Edition Language

Community Reviews

Jaycob Izso

I've read this twice, mostly for fun. The "fun" aspect is crucial as Barry is (was) an incredibly approachable writer and the book is packed full of entertaining insights and anecdotes. On the down side, both in terms of Barry's oeuvre and the field itself, the book is hardly the most substantive account of social justice theory; due in no small part because of Barry's attempt to make the text so accessible. As a result, this book is probably a text best suited for the layman or to be used as an introduction to social justice theory.

One major note: Barry is reliant on ideological considerations for essentially every part of the book (Ch. 17 is entirely devoted to the topic, in fact). And the text likely won't hold much water with those fervently opposed to Barry's openly "liberal" sentiments or those uninterested in ideology. The benefit of his overt ideological armature, however, is that it allows for a useful comparative point between other popular social justice writers that Barry had, at one point or another, criticized - Rawls and Walzer immediately come to mind.

Ultimately, this is a delightful book and a very easy read (certainly when compared to a lot of social justice literature). Despite Barry's economic propositions, this should not be seen as a serious approach to political economics - it is a firmly "liberal" approach to social justice by way of a series of arguments on socio-economic inequality and resource redistribution. But regardless of its ideological or methodological commitments; the text is worth the read and is a fitting work for a thinker who busied himself with making social justice, both in theory and in practice, equally accessible to everyone.

Ft. Sheridan

"...chronic stress can cause high blood pressure. This was something I discovered for myself when I spent four years near the University of Chicago in a constant (and justifiable) state of apprehension about the risk of violence from people who, if they did not accost you in the street, were quite capable of smashing your door down and helping themselves after immobilizing you."