What is Social Justice?

Social Justice - Neighborhood House Assn
Neighborhood House Association is strengthening communities across the region through its innovative approach to serving all generations of San Diegans.

In the world of philanthropy, we hear the phrase social justice a lot.

But what exactly does it mean?

While you probably have a general idea of what social justice stands for, if you were put on the spot, would you be able to define it in a short soundbite?

How do you define social justice?
Share it with us in the comments below!

Several organizations and institutions provide their own definitions for social justice. Here are a few:

  • “Social justice may be broadly understood as the fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth.”
    United Nations

  • “Social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. Social workers aim to open the doors of access and opportunity for everyone, particularly those in greatest need.”
    National Association of Social Workers

  • “Social justice encompasses economic justice. Social justice is the virtue which guides us in creating those organized human interactions we call institutions. In turn, social institutions, when justly organized, provide us with access to what is good for the person, both individually and in our associations with others. Social justice also imposes on each of us a personal responsibility to work with others to design and continually perfect our institutions as tools for personal and social development.”
    Center for Economic and Social Justice

Defining Social Justice

While formal definitions for social justice vary in wording, there are commonalities among them.

  1. Equal rights
  2. Equal opportunity
  3. Equal treatment

With these core values in mind, we can define the phrase as such: Social justice means equal rights, opportunity and treatment for all.

Examples in San Diego Philanthropy

Using this definition, you can see how social justice relates directly to philanthropy in San Diego.

Many local nonprofit organizations build mission statements invested in social justice in their respective social impact areas, including the California Innocence Project for criminal justice, the Neighborhood House Association for underserved communities, and Challenged Athletes Foundation for children and athletes with physical disabilities.

The San Diego Museum of Man is also shining light on this issue through “Race: Are We So Different?” This award-winning exhibit uncovers origins of race and racism, and helps us understand how to deal with them in productive, enlightening ways.

Museum of Man - RACE Social Justice
The San Diego Museum of Man’s “Race: Are We So Different?” exhibit uncovers origins of race and racism, and helps us understand how to deal with them in productive, enlightening ways.

Learn More

We’ve shared how we define social justice, now it’s your turn. Comment below to share your definition of social justice and the examples you see in San Diego.

To learn more, check out our social impact areas and programs to see where and how we’re tackling social injustices in the region.

Also, learn more about The San Diego Foundation Center for Civic Engagement private guided tour of the Museum of Man’s “Race: Are We So Different?” exhibit in May 2016 at the San Diego Museum of Man.

Learn More