Making sense of ‘global’ social justice: Claims for justice in the global labour market for seafarers

Winchester, Nik and Bailey, Nicholas (2012). Making sense of ‘global’ social justice: Claims for justice in the global labour market for seafarers. Sociological Research Online, 17(4)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5153/sro.2777

Abstract

Inequality and social justice are key issues in a context marked by endemic interconnectedness. However, traditional accounts of social justice deploy explanatory frameworks that are state bound. By contrast, it is argued that globalisation has led to the emergence and entrenchment of forms and structures of power and influence that operate beyond and across national boundaries and that are capable of perpetrating inequity and injustice. In response theorists have begun to argue for the need to recognise the demands of social justice in non-state territorial contexts. Whilst extant theories offer a high level of abstraction, we ground these theories by examining the global labour market for seafarers as an example of a multinational workforce operating in a global context. The paper offers a detailed examination of these workers raising a global social justice claim within an international forum. In so doing we argue that this case leads to a significant problematisation of global social justice as an empirical phenomenon and conceptual object; one that escapes extant theoretical resources. In conclusion we highlight conceptual and pragmatic issues associated with theorising and realising global social justice, and the role that sociology has to play in this endeavour.

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