Social Justice Work
©2009 President (2009-2010) JoAnn L. Miller
SSSP members engage in social justice work. The interdisciplinary perspectives and methods that activist scholars use to pursue social justice is the theme of the 2010 annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.
Social justice work is problem-driven scholarship that employs rigorous theory and research methods. Examples include work on human rights and civil rights; action research focused on injustices on the factory floor or in the courtroom; and the study of discrimination or violence which is directed at groups or individuals in local communities in the United States and throughout the wider world.
Explanation and understanding are the starting points, not the results, of social justice work. The most urgent and persistent social problems – war and violence, economic distress and poverty, inequalities, and unfair treatment of social groups – initiate social justice work, which changes the value or utility attributed to mainstream scholarship within the social sciences. Practitioners, all types of scholar activists, are not blinded by a favorite framework or the desire to produce papers directed only to academic specialists. Social justice and ways to achieve it, rather than intellectual struggles, are deemed to be the worthy battles.
Social justice workers are engaged within the community, whether local or global, yet they bring new ideas and new perspectives into the academy. Theory and practice are linked. The linkage occurs when scholars decide to understand why immigrant workers are forced to do ‘dirty work’ to care for their families, or when they struggle to understand militarism, or how diplomacy gone wrong can provoke a nuclear threat or interpersonal violence.
The 2010 meeting of the Society for the Study of Social Problems will feature presentations and thematic sessions on the work of social justice practitioners – those who organize or study social movements, those who look within and across organizations to see how community problems can be ameliorated, those who talk to persons who fight wars in other nations or wars within themselves. A number of workshops and panels on the scholarship of engagement and the classroom practices introducing students to social justice work are planned.
The many forms of social justice work will be featured. Protest movements, community studies, social change projects from within organizations, social action research, institutional ethnographies, comparative studies, and policy studies are examples. We will challenge social science dogma and celebrate the possibilities of a just world.
JoAnn L. Miller, SSSP President, Purdue University
2010 Program Committee
Glenn W. Muschert, Chair, Miami University
David L. Levinson, Norwalk Community College
Henry H. Brownstein, NORC at the University of Chicago
Paul D. Steele, Morehead State University