Structural injustice creates division and threatens peace. But how do we know whether our social order is just? Challenging such notions is the key to social mobility.
The idea of social justice is central to our sense of morality. Experiments show that even two-year-olds display high levels of social cooperation, while five-year-olds react indignantly when they feel discriminated against. So are we born with a sense of justice? According to Dr. Hanna Beissert, of Germany’s Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education, justice is both learned and innate.
Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds of Germans feel that social justice has declined in recent years. Social mobility from the working-class to the rich and influential elite is extremely rare. And the more a society is characterized by structural inequality, the more likely it is to become further unbalanced. The distribution of opportunities and resources is becoming less equal around the world, leading to increased social division.
The International Justice Index attempts to objectively measure social justice. Norway, Sweden and Denmark top the list, with Austria in fifth place and Switzerland in sixth, followed by the Netherlands and Germany, which share seventh place. The United States is in 24th place, ahead of Italy, Greece, Romania and Turkey. According to sociologist Michael Hartmann, Germany’s future looks bleak: "The social division that Germany is going through right now is similar to what the UK and US saw about 20 years ago. Simply put, you can say we’re always about 20 years behind those countries in our development, and we’re now moving toward their level of division."
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