Walls and Bridges: Social Justice and Public Policy

SUNY Press
Free sample

This useful classroom resource for professors wishing to incorporate notions of justice into their courses examines a variety of America’s most challenging social issues (education, poverty, homelessness, crime, and health care), interwoven with racial and ethnic themes. Anthony J. Cortese illustrates how the tension between moral relativism on the one hand, and universal ethics on the other, makes concrete policy discussion difficult. He illustrates how, through a synthesis of justice, law, and power, a social ethics approach to public policy could resolve various intergroup conflicts and social problems. Included at the end of each chapter are “What You Can Do” exercises and activities that encourage students to apply what they have learned to their own lives.
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About the author

Anthony J. Cortese is Professor of Sociology at Southern Methodist University. He is the author of Ethnic Ethics: The Restructuring of Moral Theory, published by SUNY Press, and Provocateur: Images of Women and Minorities in Advertising.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Feb 1, 2012
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Pages
206
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ISBN
9780791485866
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Public Policy / General
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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This work is devoted to analyzing three major frames of justice--group justice, individual desert, and life affirmation--and their implications for social policy as well as their reflections in contemporary social policies.Pelton finds that all three frames of justice are reflected in the Bible and, later, the Koran. He contends that there is no evidence in the Bible of a genesis or development from one frame of justice to another. Rather, a sense of justice has existed in the human mind from time immemorial, with the three frames coexisting and manifesting themselves in both inter- and intra-group relations. The prominence of one frame over another at any particular point in history or in a particular geographical location is influenced by a variety of factors, though it is ultimately open to human choice.

Pelton compares and contrasts the philosophies of nonviolence and liberalism in regard to the frames, and explores the relationships between principle, sentiment, reason, justice, and policy. He discusses social science's problematic relationship to justice in policymaking--for instance, how scholars have focused more on the effectiveness of policies, largely in terms of statistical outcomes reflecting aggregate data analyses, than on their justice. He goes on to explore in depth how frames of justice give direction to social policies, including those of genocide.

Frames of Justice is an outstanding work that analyzes the question of justice and social policy, while simultaneously exploring the notion of desert in religion, philosophy, and legislation--especially within the context of the moral question of the relationship between means and ends--and contrasting it with the principle of life affirmation.

Leroy H. Pelton is a professor in and former director of the School of Social Work, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and professor emeritus of the School of Social Work, Salem State College, Massachusetts. He is the author of The Psychology of Nonviolence, For Reasons of Poverty: A Critical Analysis of the Public Child Welfare System in the United States, and Doing Justice: Liberalism, Group Constructs, and Individual Realities, and the editor of The Social Context of Child Abuse and Neglect. He has also written numerous journal articles on psychology, social work, child welfare, and social policy.
At the center of pluralistic societies like the United States is the question of how to make broadly consensual social policy in light of the different moral values held by a heterogeneous population varying in ethnicity, sexual identity, religion, and political belief. In Thick Moralities, Thin Politics Benjamin Gregg develops a new approach to dealing with conflicting values in the policymaking process. Arguing that public policy suffers when politics are laden with moral doctrines, Gregg contends that "thickly" moral public philosophies cannot be the basis of a successful political process. He offers a "thin" model of political decision-making which brackets moral questions (within the public sphere), deliberately working around them whenever possible—not toward political consensus, but rather the more realistic goal of mutual accommodation.

Thick Moralities, Thin Politics grapples with the work of theorists from both sides of the Atlantic, including Jürgen Habermas, Anthony Giddens, and Niklas Luhmann, as well as George Herbert Mead, Erving Goffman, and Harold Garfinkel. Gregg develops a model of validity for arguments made in the public sphere, for understanding among competing worldviews, and for adjudicating disputes generated by normative differences. He applies his theory of politics to specific issues of contemporary social life, including those relating to the place of women, minorities, and multiculturalism in American and European society today. He also addresses the scientific study of religion, issues of legal interpretation, and the critique of ideology, in each case illuminating how different epistemic systems, as well as competing value systems, can achieve some understanding of one another. Gregg demonstrates, ultimately, that thin politics actually further, rather than reduce, citizens' engagement in the political process.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time, as seen in the HBO documentary True Justice

“[Bryan Stevenson’s] dedication to fighting for justice and equality has inspired me and many others and made a lasting impact on our country.”—John Legend

SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING MICHAEL B. JORDAN AND JAMIE FOXX • Named One of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The Seattle Times • Esquire • Time

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction • Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction • Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award • Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize • Finalist for the Kirkus Reviews Prize • An American Library Association Notable Book

“Every bit as moving as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so . . . a searing indictment of American criminal justice and a stirring testament to the salvation that fighting for the vulnerable sometimes yields.”—David Cole, The New York Review of Books

“Searing, moving . . . Bryan Stevenson may, indeed, be America’s Mandela.”—Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times

“You don’t have to read too long to start cheering for this man. . . . The message of this book . . . is that evil can be overcome, a difference can be made. Just Mercy will make you upset and it will make you hopeful.”—Ted Conover, The New York Times Book Review

“Inspiring . . . a work of style, substance and clarity . . . Stevenson is not only a great lawyer, he’s also a gifted writer and storyteller.”—The Washington Post

“As deeply moving, poignant and powerful a book as has been, and maybe ever can be, written about the death penalty.”—The Financial Times

“Brilliant.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
WINNER OF THE 2017 PULITZER PRIZE GENERAL NON-FICTION 

From Harvard sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America
 
In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.

The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don’t pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.

Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced  into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.

Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR NONFICTION | WINNER OF THE PEN/JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH AWARD FOR NONFICTION | WINNER OF THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN NONFICTION | FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE | NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR by The New York Times Book Review • The Boston Globe •  The Washington Post • NPR • Entertainment Weekly • The New Yorker • Bloomberg •  Esquire • Buzzfeed • Fortune • San Francisco Chronicle • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel • St. Louis Post-Dispatch •  Politico •  The Week • Bookpage • Kirkus Reviews •  Amazon •  Barnes and Noble Review •  Apple •  Library Journal • Chicago Public Library • Publishers Weekly • Booklist • Shelf Awareness
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time • WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

Although Theodore Rex fully recounts TR’s years in the White House (1901–1909), The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt begins with a brilliant Prologue describing the President at the apex of his international prestige. That was on New Year’s Day, 1907, when TR, who had just won the Nobel Peace Prize, threw open the doors of the White House to the American people and shook 8,150 hands, more than any man before him. Morris re-creates the reception with such authentic detail that the reader gets almost as vivid an impression of TR as those who attended. One visitor remarked afterward, “You go to the White House, you shake hands with Roosevelt and hear him talk—and then you go home to wring the personality out of your clothes.”

The rest of this book tells the story of TR’s irresistible rise to power. (He himself compared his trajectory to that of a rocket.) It is, in effect, the biography of seven men—a naturalist, a writer, a lover, a hunter, a ranchman, a soldier, and a politician—who merged at age forty-two to become the youngest President in our history. Rarely has any public figure exercised such a charismatic hold on the popular imagination. Edith Wharton likened TR’s vitality to radium. H. G. Wells said that he was  “a very symbol of the creative will in man.” Walter Lippmann characterized him simply as our only “lovable” chief executive.

During the years 1858–1901, Theodore Roosevelt, the son of a wealthy Yankee father and a plantation-bred southern belle, transformed himself from a frail, asthmatic boy into a full-blooded man. Fresh out of Harvard, he simultaneously published a distinguished work of naval history and became the fist-swinging leader of a Republican insurgency in the New York State Assembly. He had a youthful romance as lyrical—and tragic—as any in Victorian fiction. He chased thieves across the Badlands of North Dakota with a copy of Anna Karenina in one hand and a Winchester rifle in the other. Married to his childhood sweetheart in 1886, he became the country squire of Sagamore Hill on Long Island, a flamboyant civil service reformer in Washington, D.C., and a night-stalking police commissioner in New York City. As assistant secretary of the navy under President McKinley, he almost single-handedly brought about the Spanish-American War. After leading “Roosevelt’s Rough Riders” in the famous charge up San Juan Hill, Cuba, he returned home a military hero, and was rewarded with the governorship of New York. In what he called his “spare hours” he fathered six children and wrote fourteen books. By 1901, the man Senator Mark Hanna called “that damned cowboy” was vice president of the United States. Seven months later, an assassin’s bullet gave TR the national leadership he had always craved.

His is a story so prodigal in its variety, so surprising in its turns of fate, that previous biographers have treated it as a series of haphazard episodes. This book, the only full study of TR’s pre-presidential years, shows that he was an inevitable chief executive, and recognized as such in his early teens. His apparently random adventures were precipitated and linked by various aspects of his character, not least an overwhelming will. “It was as if he were subconsciously aware that he was a man of many selves,” the author writes, “and set about developing each one in turn, knowing that one day he would be President of all the people.”
Longlisted for the National Book Award
New York Times Bestseller

A former Wall Street quant sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life — and threaten to rip apart our social fabric

We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives—where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance—are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated.

But as Cathy O’Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student can’t get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his zip code), he’s then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. Models are propping up the lucky and punishing the downtrodden, creating a “toxic cocktail for democracy.” Welcome to the dark side of Big Data.

Tracing the arc of a person’s life, O’Neil exposes the black box models that shape our future, both as individuals and as a society. These “weapons of math destruction” score teachers and students, sort résumés, grant (or deny) loans, evaluate workers, target voters, set parole, and monitor our health.

O’Neil calls on modelers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policy makers to regulate their use. But in the end, it’s up to us to become more savvy about the models that govern our lives. This important book empowers us to ask the tough questions, uncover the truth, and demand change.

— Longlist for National Book Award (Non-Fiction)
— Goodreads, semi-finalist for the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards (Science and Technology)
— Kirkus, Best Books of 2016
— New York Times, 100 Notable Books of 2016 (Non-Fiction)
— The Guardian, Best Books of 2016
— WBUR's "On Point," Best Books of 2016: Staff Picks
— Boston Globe, Best Books of 2016, Non-Fiction
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