Social Justice Research

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 49–60 | Cite as

Social justice as a Holy Grail: The endless quest

  • Kenneth E. Boulding


This paper gives the author's impressions on the following aspects of justice: desert, equity, equality, need, and intergenerational equity. The author concludes that these different aspects cannot be reconciled but instead must be compromised. An example of such a compromise is provided by a discussion of welfare reform. The author claims that rights are correlative with duties, and that asserting the former has little meaning without specifying the latter. He then discusses justice toward groups rather than individuals. He proposes that maintaining cultural variety in the presence of a homogeneous “superculture” is a major problem of the contemporary world. The paper concludes with a discussion of various forms of power, particularly the “integrative power” that people acquire over each other by virtue of ties of loyalty and identity.


Social Psychology Social Policy Social Justice Cultural Variety Welfare Reform 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth E. Boulding
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Behavioral ScienceUniversity of Colorado-BoulderBoulder

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