The Relevance of Theory to Perspective Building on Social Justice Addressing the consequences of social inequities in the East African region, especially where civil society organizations are concerned, is frequently considered to require the most immediate form of action. As social deprivation in its different manifestations seems ever more pervasive, agendas and coalitions, projects and programs, strategies and advocacy occupy center stage. Furthering an African Perspective on Social Justice: East Africa Social Justice Group John De Coninck AFRICAN PERSPECTIVES ON SOCIAL JUSTICE 4 While there is no doubt that this is done with the best of intentions, the rush to action can obscure important, but masked, issues: Why are social inequities pervasive in the region in the first place, why are they seemingly allowed to persist, and, more fundamentally, what is the very notion of social justice in the local context? A review of the theoretical underpinnings of the notion of social justice can provide some pointers. Julian Culp, while offering a concise review of the evolution of such thought from a Euro-American perspective, observes that theories of social justice have been crowded out by the more dominant approaches to social development, where accounts of social progress—whether in terms of modernization, dependence, or the Washington consensus—have been taking prominence. More recently, however, the emphasis on human development has reintroduced a bridge between bodies of knowledge associated with social development and aspirations for social justice, especially where the notion of development has been widened beyond considerations of value-neutral material progress and commodity fetishism to encompass, for instance,
Iris Young’s Critique of the Distributive Paradigm.