Tenets of Social Justice

Social Justice Related Terms

Discrimination: The restrictive treatment of a person or group based on prejudiced assumptions of group characteristics, rather than on individual merit.

Diversity: The existence of presence of individuals from various cultures or groups. \

Multiculturalism: A term used to demonstrate the recognition, the understanding, and the appreciation of other cultures.

Oppression: Oppression is a pattern or system of inequality that gives power and unearned privileges to members of one group of people at the expense of another. Oppression continues because of widespread prejudice, repeated discrimination, and built-in privilege and subordination or marginalization.

Individual Level
The conscious or unconscious action or beliefs of one individual (i.e., agent of oppression) that has a direct and negative effect on another individual (i.e., target of oppression).  Examples include harassment, racial/ethnic slurs, etc.

Societal/Cultural Level
The “privileged” beliefs, traditions, and customs that bind individuals to a particular institution (e.g. school, churches, government, et cetera) that support the domination of another group.

Institutional Level
Actions, procedures, and customs that are repeated and sanctioned by society that shapes its culture, the lives of individuals, and the amount of power shared within groups.  Much like the others, this level can be conscious and unconscious; it is also rooted in the historical privileges and disadvantages.

Prejudice: A negative or hostile attitude toward a person or group formed without just grounds or sufficient knowledge and based on negative stereotypes, an attitude, opinion, or feeling formed without adequate prior knowledge, thought, or reason.  Moreover, a prejudice cannot be changed simply by presenting new facts or information that contradicts those one already has.  Prejudice can be prejudgment for or against any individual, group, or object.  Any individual or group can hold prejudices towards another individual, group or object.

Pluralism: A social condition in which diverse ethnic racial, religious, or cultural groups live side by side, willing to affirm each other’s dignity, ready to benefit from each other’s experiences, and quick to acknowledge each other's contributions to common welfare.

Stereotype: A preconceived or oversimplified generalization about an entire group of people without regard for their individual differences.

World View: The way an individual perceives his/her relation to the world (i.e. nature, other people, animals, institutions, objects, the cosmos, their creator).  A person’s world view is influenced by one’s memories, expectations, assumptions, beliefs, attitudes, values, interest, past experiences, strong feelings, and prejudices.