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physical and ecological limits.


Social justice is a broad concept, and has been used in a variety of ways to refer to subjects of interest to criminologists. In this article, we examine the concept ‘social justice’ and the various ways in which social justice concepts can and have been applied to the study of criminal justice and other related process, such as social justice in law and in the application of law.

To illustrate these different uses of social justice relevant concepts, we examine several areas in which social justice orientations have been employed to illustrate how the primary concern of social justice approaches and measures of equity and fairness can be produced, and the issues that need to be addressed to facilitate social justice outcomes. To accomplish this task, we first review general definitions of social justice. Next, we examine social justice-related literature related to several issues including: peacemaking criminology; restorative justice; victim advocacy; mental health; the prison abolition movement; environmental justice; social work; and public health.

In undertaking this review, it is important for the reader to bear in mind that in contemporary academic literature, the concept of social justice has been extended to a number of fields. Traditionally, criminologists associate the concept of social justice with the work of radical criminologists in the late 1960s and 1970s. The field of social justice research, however, has come a long way since then, and social justice approaches are applied in many different disciplines. To illustrate that point, our discussion is not confined to criminological applications of social justice ideas alone. Indeed, while social justice approaches are certainly important within specific areas of criminological research (e.g., peacemaking criminology; restorative justice; victim advocacy; etc.), important literatures on this topic have emerged on issues, such as environmental justice and equity and public health that should not be ignored because of the ways in which they illustrated the expanded concept of social justice.