Globalization, Social Justice and Human Rights        


Sumaries   [Sumários em português]

Lesson 1. 2013; 2017; 2018; 2019; 2020

Lesson 2. 2013; 2017; 2018; 2019; 2020

Lesson 3. 2013; 2017; 2018; 2019; 2020

Lesson 4. 2013; 2017; 2018; 2019; 2020

Lesson 5. 2013; 2017; 2018; 2019; 2020

Lesson 6. 2013; 2017; 2018; 2019; 2020

Lesson 7. 2013; 2017; 2018; 2019; 2020

Lesson 8. 2013; 2017; 2018; 2019; 2020

Lesson 9. 2013; 2017; 2018; 2019; 2020

Lesson 10. 2013; 2017; 2018; 2019; 2020


Fall  semestre 2020

Lesson 10. Students present their group work

Students present their group work open to discussion and close the course.

Lesson 9. Students present their group work (to be cont.)

Students present their group work open to discussion

Lesson 8. Women´s Human rights

Being a female is a very deep personal and social classification: perhaps the most profound imaginable. It is also a subject of women social movements and gender public policies of higher importance, before and after World War II.

In Iran, Afghanistan, more recently in Turkey, and in other parts of the world, women´s rights are under attack from the authorities. Power shares with men the task of subordinating women. Also in parts of Europe, as in Russia or Poland or Hungary, the women´s social status is minimized, stigmatized, used for political purposes.

Gender policies in the EU are a political mark related to human rights, to the rights of women and children. However, it is separate from the rights of immigrants and their families or first peoples, especially Roma, but also from the rights of all nation-states´ subordinate peoples. The rights of women and children appear to be on the rise, the rights of immigrants and ethnic groups are at a loss.

Gender policies represent, at the same time, the human reaction to patriarchal modes of social organization and the reaction of elites to denountiation movements against discrimination, by one hand, the use of sex to promote gender divisions, demarcating “primitive society” as “modern civilization”, by other hand. History and politics show advances and setbacks in cultures and processes of dignifying and discriminating female gender. It is a complex long run dance.

The importance of gender social classification for inheritance policies can be important (only men can inherit) or minimized or abolished (women can also inherit). Although discrimination can favor the accumulation of capital, the latter does not depend only on sexual discrimination. Other forms of discrimination also help to maintain an accumulating elite in the face of populations who do not share the opportunities or risks of capital accumulation. The alliances between societies and the dominant powers (the modern states), however, maintain the memory of the effectiveness of the use of sexual discrimination for the purposes of social hierarchy and its naturalization. Even the most liberal societies for women continue not to abolish discrimination against women, even where discrimination is prohibited by law. The struggles to re-establish the same sexual discrimination that were in use a few decades ago exist and are being felt more strongly in recent years in the West. Regardless of what happened in non western countries, such as those mentioned above.

It is the naturalization of discrimination and stigmas against those who may be more fragile, such as ethnic groups, foreigners, the poor, women, children, the elderly, which made it necessary and useful to develop special rights for women. Women's rights are human rights. That is, human rights have been interpreted to exclude women (and other groups of people) as if they are not human. Then, against this reality, declarations of human rights were created according to the Muslim tradition, special rights for women, children, immigrants, first peoples. Thus, it seeks to reconcile persistent social discrimination and a perspective of the unification of humanity, beyond the recurrent reproduction of discrimination.

Lesson 7. Immigration and retaliation

Globalization was a project of free mobility for capital (money), goods (trade), and people. The idea was to take a new step in development.

After World War II, the United States and the United Nations launched the idea of aid: the most developed countries will help countries in need (such as Japan and Germany that had lost the war, through the Marshall plan). During the Cold War, 3 worlds were created: the developed (western) world, the second (communist) world, and the Third World, the “developing” countries world., that is, countries that are indebted to the richest countries. The Third World was constituted by the new states that emerged from decolonization and the colonizing countries continued to derive profits from there (royalties). In the 1970s, relations soured between the oil countries (they wanted to sell oil at a higher price) and the consuming (developed) countries. Internally to developed countries, opposition to war and the lack of freedoms (of students, women) have gained ground. Neoliberalism and globalization are revenge policies against the causes of stress in the richest countries: the project to abolish borders as much as possible, as a way of increasing economic activity (being able to buy and sell everywhere), reduce costs (through competition), and give equal opportunities to all people all over the world, regardless of the country in which they were born. The end of the Soviet Union made this idea even more powerful, as it became possible to organize the 3 worlds in one, with a single law (the World Trade Organization free trade agreements). China was insistently invited to join. Finally, China joined and the middle classes in developed countries began to feel the competition: their wages stopped increasing. All growth of revenue has been taken by richest classes; none goes to working classes.

Globalization was a project to democratize development and the Western way of life, turning the Earth insufficient in resources to be able to respond to so many people with consumerist ways of life, destroying the environment. At the same time, modern social lifts, such as schools and professions, have proved to be insufficient to prevent the increase in inequality. (Probably neither schools were social lifts, nor did the increase in inequalities start only with neoliberalism - there is a distortion of reality, an apologetic discourse in favour of what we have, carried out by the social sciences. We must discount to understand reality): the brotherhood that one wants to make of humanity, through religion or human rights, is a field of wars.

The cosmopolitan classes´ freedom of movement corresponds to a trap for immigrants coming from former colonized and subordinate countries, such as African and Latin American countries. They provide illegal immigrants who die on dangerous trips to enter developed countries and when then reach these countries they are criminalized. Borders turned into walls and prisons. Human rights are violated and created multitudes of “illegal” immigrants who work clandestinely for lower wages and in jobs that locals do not accept.

The empire, a very old blueprint of organization. Its applications expanded and the empire way of organizing democratizes. Post-colonial states and international corporations are post-war imperial organizations.

Empires are targets of retaliation by those who feel harmed by it. People do not like empires when they do not protect people. The empire learned to retaliate against those who fight it, in order to survive.

Imperial organizations learned many ways to divide their oppositions and rule. It retaliates against the weakest people. This intimidates all other people. Empire distinguishes the strongest, urging them to serve empire organizations, taking advantage of the empire. Immigrants, and other vulnerable people, become scapegoats for imperial elites, for globalization, and for the inability of states and international organizations to deliver on their promises of free movement of people. Immigrants are used scapegoat class and exploited, and powerless clandestine people. They are presented as threats to the working and middle classes. These late classes are encouraged to replace the revenge feeling against the empire (and the elites) for revenge against immigrants.

The empire's retaliation against immigrants is not because the empire organizations do not want to use their workforce, or because immigrants threaten power. Retaliation against immigrants, because they are weaker workers, aims to save the cost of welfare state and, at the same time, blaming them (not elites) for that.

Selective criminalization reinforces this method of diverging retaliation from elites to immigrants: it serves to distract societies from the organization's retaliation against the empire.

Lesson 6. Hope and hate

"One day" in three languages, Haifa, 2018

Three thousand people singing hope for peace, in English, Arabic, and Hebrew, have a close relationship with the subject of our course: globalization, social justice, and human rights.

Globalization was imagined as being the end of ideologies and the end of history by Fukuyama. The end of wars and the associated miseries was hoped. In reality, new wars were organized folowing the end of the Cold War, such as war against Islamic terrorism, against the oil countries (Iraq, Iran, Venezuela) and, again, against former comunist Russia and China.

Social justice resulting from the right to equal treatment, human rights referring to the affirmation of the human dignity of all human beings, are statements that contrast with what is our common experience: nice names contrast with the accumulation of wealth, the growing social inequalities, with the reproduction of castes, such as elites, middle classes and stigmatized groups (in Günther Jacobs' saying, the enemy's Law develop three castes: the impune caste, the caste of those subject to penal codes, and the caste of those to whom the protection of law do not apply).

How to explain the difference between what is said and sung, as an apparently inconsequential prayer, and the realities of hunger, misery, torture, hatred, before which we feel powerless?

To explain the growing popularity of neo-Nazi-fascists in politics in a way that is difficult for now a day´s social sciences, politologists, opinion polls, one has to strongly consider to abandon social sciences theories. The 1930s´ and the post-war´s professionalization of the social workers, using university courses, are called to be useful for the social integration of people in a society that exploits the Earth and its resources, including human resources, including professionals.

Today, each one of us is torn between the sacrifice of working for those who need someone capable of fulfill professional tasks, and the evidence that our collective work is unsustainable, it is destroying the environment. The pandemic has shown how most people, especially the least protected, yearn to return to normal, despite this normal being unsustainable from an ecological and financial point of view. It is not just the elites who are exploiting the Earth. It is the elites and those who work for them, namely the professionals and also the other people who do it to have money to eat, we all work together.

Part of the explanation for what is happening is the emergence of the imperial spirit, a few millennia ago. The use of languages ​​to discriminate (divide and rule) allows the maintenance of elites, above the social control of the masses. To perpetuating leaders as elites they just have to find someone to blame when things go wrong, avoiding responsibilities. Blaming stigmatized groups, external or internal enemies, elites find their allies in the masses. This is what is called politics. Discriminate to produce elites, alienating the evidence by creating real or imagined enimies, and states of war.

Wars between states are reproduced, at different scales, in companies, in professions, in schools. For example, in the social sciences schools, there is an opposition between academic theories and critical theories. What this “war” conceals is the servility of the professionalized social sciences towards the elites and, in particular, the national states, which finances social workers, as professionals. Such a professionalization program occurs at the same time that social theories agree to deny one of the main goals of the social sciences: to become full sciences, to fulfill the rest of the path between philosophy and science.

Schools, as well as schools of social sciences, have become part of the problem and not part of the solution, given the increase in hunger and misery, and the irreversibility of the destruction of the environment. The emergence of explicit hatred in politics is also facilitated by policies against violence and in favor of the law. This is proposed by the social sciences, remaining uncritically inconsequential, such as the song of hope or the declarations of human rights with which we start our class.

Lesson 5. Social justice and human rights

Slide show

Social Justice and Human Rights are typical expressions of postwar Western societies. The social revolution of the 19th century, the prospect of a victory of the proletariat over the capitalists and their state, was replaced by the fair distribution of the benefits extracted from the exploitation of the Earth and its resources. The image of the exploited workers in revolt was replaced by the Soviet state, the dictatorship of the proletariat, in one hand, and by social consultation between bosses and workers, under the aegis of the state, to negotiate the part of the increase in the wealth that would go to pay wages and to pay investments, in the other hand. The revolution was institutionalized in bargaining processes around just outcome. Workers become human resources (to be explored) and citizens (with the right to vote, access to consumption above subsistence).

The rights of political participation won by the bourgeoisie under the French Revolution were extended to workers, as Habermas refers to in the text quoted in the program. The 1948´s declaration of human rights at the UN was an update of the French Revolution's declaration of human rights. Will it be this time that all people will become de facto equal in access to the minimum conditions of dignity (not being in such a precarious situation that does not allow them to make decisions about how to organize their personal lives)?

Experience shows that human rights are both hope and frustration. Although human rights institutions have multiple, under the protection of the UN (and the Council of Europe) and the ILO (International Labor Organization), including special higher courts, such as the European Court of Human Rights and their equivalents in other continents, the specialization of human rights separate from defense and internal security policies, as well as from trade and industry policies, allows violation of human rights under wars, police persecutions as well as under political and economic purposes. This happens in the poorest and farthest countries, away from Western culture, and it also happens in the richest and most powerful countries (cf. Assange's case, among others).

The specialization of human rights in various directions, in the search to protect vulnerable populations, such as women, children, migrants, and their families, the first people, the prisoners, reveals at the same time the vigor of human rights´ social movements and the existing ignorance about the sources of these discriminations. Discrimination continues to spring as industrial assets, meanwhile, human rights´ activists and institutions can only help in rare cases.

Amartya Sen, a disciple of John Rawls, recognized the limitations of justice produced by the courts and pointed out to the need to produce effective economic and social mechanisms in the realization of “capabilities” produced only by care and love raising children by adults and families and communities free from threats to their physical and mental integrity.

Lesson 4. Globalization: what it means?

The expression of globalization became a topic of debate in the social sciences, after the end of the Soviet Union and the Cold War. The USA became the only superpower in the world and its model of economy and life became hegemonic. At an economic level, there was no more talk about the “development”, about developing countries (which was a very common talk regarding the Third World - the first world was the Western world; the second world was the sphere of communist influence). Globalization substitute development kind of talks. At the political level, talking about totalitarianism and its negative connotation stoped. Emerge instead the talk about the “there is no alternative” (TINA) talk.

The expression globalization started to be used in academia in the 90s and lost its shine with the Trump´s election as president of the USA, 2016. The superpower that promotes globalization, through its influence with the institutions of global governance (UN; WTO; BM; IMF; WHO; OECD, etc.) has turned its back on globalization, recognizing the political and economic failure of the past decades. Namely, the new politics choosed to abandon the idea of ​​“global village” to resume Cold War strategies, with Russia and China, meanwhile transformed into capitalist powers (this eventes followed the war against radical Islam and terrorism in the name of Christian fundamentalism, war declared by George W. Bush, Blair, Aznar in 2003, at the Azores summit).

The work of conceptualizing the expression globalization encountered serious difficulties: did globalization begin when the first humans left Africa or when the Portuguese kings organized the Discoveries or only in the 90s? Thatcher and Reagan's neoliberalism, the ideology of globalization, was imagined by Hayek, the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1974, and put into practice in politics in the following decade, before the end of the Cold War. There is, therefore, a lot of antecedents of globalization before the expression started to be used. For example, the 20th century inter-war crisis, which enabled the United States to become the empire's new seat, replacing England, ushered in the era of military stability and economic growth in the West. Later, the oil crisis in 1973 led to a change in the social contract between the sharing of income between labor and capital for the new strategy of stagnating labor income and the maximum increase in capital income. It coincides with this time the beginning of the consumption of non-renewable capacities on Earth higher than the Earth's regeneration capacity.

Currently, political and economic elites speak of the system's reboot, orienting themselves ideologically to combat climate change (green economy) and to support the development of technologies (digital economy). The idea that technologies solve the problems created by the socio-economic system, the Western way of life, the consumption of fossil energies, has its origin beforethe 1980s. It was a reaction of the elites to control the emergence of ecological movements. For one hand, ecological ideas were censored (since the 1960s, there is scientific consensus on the risk of global warming, but this does not show in politics or in the media). On the other hand, ecological ideas were recovered using the taste of humans regarding mechanical crafting and the alleged need for economic growth to solve the problems of poverty (which persist and worsen).

In the academy, prepared to train professionals and avoid political problems - the elites are free to deal with them as it please them -, globalization becomed a real "thing", instead of an expression. Naturalized, globalization were dissected among its technological aspects (transport, information and communication networks, biotechnology, etc.) economy aspects (capitalism as the only way of to survive) political aspects (naturalization of international and social hierarchies of privileges and stigmatizations), cultural aspects, social aspectes, and so on. Globalization is presented as a spontaneous result of the evolution of human life, the zenith of progress, the best of all possible worlds. Such an apology is so obvious that become akward. There were those who completed the image of globalization with “another world (another globalization) is possible”, like sociologists as Boaventura Sousa Santos or Michael Burawoy, using and inspiring processes of unification of social movements (failed, until now). People concerned with the “social” found it useful to organize (since 2001) the World Social Fora, in contrast to the World Economic Fora in Davos (which bring together economic and political elites from around the world, in an exercise of post-Cold War globalization).


Lesson 3. History and social justice

Social Justice is a sentence with two components: the normative part and the social part.

The idealized society, for example, as a party or as an elite, can be the representation of a future social justice for all. For that purpose, everyone is called to sacrifice today, as it is the main understanding in China (and everywhere else also). Another way to look at social justice is conceiving an atomized society, made up of juxtaposed individuals, all different from each other. Society must give priority to the “more” people (more creative, rich, competent, famous, etc.) and punish or develop charity to the losers, at the same time, hoping that way to impose them better behaviors. Another idea of ​​society is what remains of the action of corporatipons on the world regulated by national states and the international community: working people and their existenctial problems, like having shelter and food, raising children, get hill, dying, etc. In this third perspective, there is no need to decide whether social justice is collectivist for the future or individualistic for only a few. It is a question of organizing resilient institutions to social and ideological conflicts, seeking to respond to complaints on one side and the other, for the bettering of the general modus vivendi.

Justice is a theme associated with law, institutional processes. The social refers to the unification of nationals, under the nation-states. Law professionals know society badly and very badly - they deal with how things should happen and are far less interested in knowing how things happen. Social workers, especially those in economics, are much less interested in knowing how things should be. Above all, they want to know how to do what needs to be done to achieve practical results, as eternal economic growth and profits, and taxes to support corporations and states.
Social justice was not a concern at the time of Roi Soleil, Louis XIV, the king of Paris who became King of France. He achieved this through the policy of establishing a monopoly on the use of violence for his retinue: "The State is I", he said. In the 17th century, with the construction of Versailles, Louis XIV seduced all the French nobility to live in the luxury of Versailles, paid for by the income from colonization (slavery, transportation, international goods), under the threat of hostility from the King against nobles who do not accept the kind invitation. On the other hand, joining the court meant sharing the funds withdrawn from the imperial enterprise. Even today, this inclosured “social justice” and social pacification mechanism is working, both at the elite and the salariate social levels.

The Court Society, the people who learned to live in luxurious seclusion, ended up, with Louis XVI, getting to know a reaction of the populace who made the French Revolution. Hunger contrasted with opulence. The injustice of a society that took all resources for itself and abandoned its neighbors and subjects was contested. Social justice started to be a problem. In 1848, more than half a century later, hunger was again a catalyst for popular revolts, and the struggle against aristocracy and bourgeosy disconnected from the reality of people's lives. Without social justice, in particular, without cheap food, accessible to all, the risks of popular misery bother aristocratic and bourgeois exploration plans for the Earth. Even today the main EU policy is the common agricultural policy, that is, subsidies for food products.

Social justice, the fight against poverty and social inequalities, became an expression used to refer to the promises of well-being and dignity, which Human Rights after the Second World War also promised.

Habermas tells the story of the evolution of the modern state in terms of the different paradigms of how laws work. Juridification is the expression it uses to refer to the processes of dissemination and incorporation of legal norms imposed on populations in an increasingly intense and detailed manner, with its benefits (of independence from people from each other, all equal before the law) and their difficulties (in how school and judicial authorities, or others, are called upon to intervene in situations they are unaware of and have neither the time nor the will to know, making the intervention of justice agents and the law possibly negative for people who allegedly should be protected and defended).

Lesson 2 - Social justice, science and justice

The course´s subject to judge as objectively as possible the impact of globalization on social justice and human rights. For this purpose, one needs a clear idea of ​​what these 3 controversial notions mean and, at the same time, a reflexion on their mutual relations.
Is it possible to be objective? Is there a truth about this? Is this truth revealed - by religion or philosophy - or is it a scientific truth? Adding this discussion on these 3 notions, there is another one: what modern science is? Science is usually said to result from a philosophy and religion turn. Science produces universal application of truth under empirical testing. Additional question: are the social sciences similar and as effective as the natural sciences?

The class was dedicated to discussing the notion of social justice. Novak's text presents a concept of social justice centered on the person and on discrimination between more and less creative people. The most creative should be specially protected and supported. They should be free to do what they want, even at the expense of the least creative people. The achievements of the most creative people - self-made men, innovative entrepreneurs, great leaders, etc. - offer mankind models of behavior that, when replicated, will favor raising the standard of living for all. This concept is especially appreciated in the USA. In China, social justice is the purpose of the Chinese Communist Party's action plans. In 2050, if everything goes as planned, Chinese socialism will be mature in that country. Social justice is each and everyone collaborating with the CCP in obtaining this result so that the planned achivements become real. Another concept of social justice is institutionalist, the most recognized in Western Europe. Social justice, from the institutional point of view, will be the identification of injustices and the construction of institutions capable of minimizing or even abolishing them. Instead of believing in individual effort or collective direction, institutionalism observes the difficulty in achieving the planned results over the individual or collective will. There is the dissonance between what each person thinks and says and what she does and, even more so, with the practical results of social action. Institutionalism takes the best possible suggestion for achieving social justice at every moment. Political struggle determine the goals, the resources assigned to carry these goals out. Managers and staff are assigned temporarily to achieve these goals, under the scrutiny of evaluating systems results. According to evaluation, it is possible to reorientate institutions. In Africa, the notion of social justice seems to be far from the main political concerns in most countries.

While it may be useful to understand different civilizational attitudes in different continents towards social justice (we did not speak about Muslim civilization), it is certain that all these concepts presented in a simplified way have supporters on all continents and are known everywhere. One lives in the age of globalization, in the age of globalization of information. There are individualist, collectivist and institutionalist theories and ideologies everywhere, mixed together.

In addition to the ideologies and histories of each continent and country, the notion of social justice is also seen differently depending on the cognitive discipline. John Rawls, for example, thinking like a lawyer and speaking to lawyers, drew up a concept of justice as fairness. It started with the idea that the economy (and society) always produces inequalities. He conclude that the courts should interpret the law and the results of its application as fair when legal decisions do not increase inequalities and, if possible, reduce them. His pupil and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, an economist, developed Rawls' theory in the sense of economics: justice is to increase as much as possible the capacities of autonomy (capabilities) of all and every people. Both of these theories are liberal, that is, they conceive people as a priority over society, a priority that collectivists invert.

Regarding the confrontation of COVID-19, it is easy to observe the difference in policies between China and Europe and the USA, corresponding in some way with the theories of social justice exposed here. It is more difficult to know whether the elderly are being treated well or poorly or whether mental health is being served by the people's containment and movement control policies. Or to understand the formation of movements of resistance to the announced vaccines. Or to decide what to do knowing that our lap tops include slave children work.

Lesson 1 - Presentation of the course; discussion of the pandemic as a global phenomena


The epidemic goes hand in hand with other global phenomena, such as the far right-wing wave in politics (is it populism or neo-Nazi-fascism?), the difference in economic growth in different parts of the world, the financial crisis of 2008 that became the new financial normal.

Xenophobia, for example, has been stimulated by several policies, such as the war against radical Islam (2003), the punishments against the peoples of Southern Europe (corrupt, lazy, alcoholic, and over-sexed) (2010), discrimination in migrations (sale of expensive national documents, on the one hand, and purchase of immigration stoppage services in North Africa and the Middle East, on the other hand), criminalization of people in an irregular administrative situation, applying arbitrary death sentences to those who fail to be rescued of the Mediterranean.

Is the pandemic part of a complex and general process that can only be understood confusingly? In reality, it comes as a disease, as new health policy, as a new form of age discrimination (the elderly, the youngest), and workers discrimination (the indispensable workers, the dispensable workers), as a new strategic priority that stopped being directed economically and started to be directed by of public health criteria?
Is the pandemic a unique, unprecedented phenomenon that needs to be looked at as such? No teaching from the past can help us to understand what is going on and what to do?

One may note two approaches to science: the particularistic and specialized, in which environmental and historical contexts are dispensed with; another one is holistic and historical, in which contexts are also discussed. Anyway, scholars and commentators refer to their déjà vu feeling when they look to the current situation: an apparently inescapable advance of the retaliation feelings centered on scapegoats, and violent political practices that intend to do justice by their own hands.

Fall  semestre 2019

Lesson 10 - Students presenting their work open to discussion

Seven students presented their work. Comparative work between different country situations and human rights were prevalent: the five chosen subjects were LGBTI situation, especially in Russia, the education situation, especially in Pakistan, genital mutilation and African traditions were dealt by two students, poverty, especially in Servia. The two other subjects were about law, prisons and neoliberalism, and social media devastating uses, from terrorism to bullying, and manipulating democratic votes.

Interesting ways of presenting and very relevant subjects captivated class for 2 hours on a row. From the subjects of the course, social justice has been not so much considered as Globalization and Human Rights.

Globalization, anyway, was dealt through new technologies, problems, and ideologies that were not available before de 80´s. Genital mutilation, domestic violence, LGBT respect or sexual abuse, were not an issue before the 80´s. It is a victory for human rights and feminist activists the now a day thematization of these questions. Social media and neoliberalism, also, are novelties arising in the last decades, contrasting with the previous times.

Most of these studies, as mention before, use nationalist methods. The risk of reification of national people exists. Differences, conflicts, very different social and economic situations among those living under the same nation-state rule were mention not as the main course of the presentations. They looked like a statistic competition between countries instead of more in-depth analyses about what is going on on an everyday basis experience of different people living in the same country.

Links between different parts and people of different countries, building the globalization excluding other people that live the same countries but without any chance to enjoy benefits from technologies, knowledge, jobs, were not so much referenced. Economic and political questions were mention in an unbalanced way, as they were presented as more secondary that they really are in real life. Of course, this is a consequence of our specialization in sociology. Anyway, maybe one can challenge the bias that we build to start an analysis. 

Lesson 9 - Students presenting their work open to discussion (to be cont.)



Lesson 7 - Additional Reflections on Social Justice:

A - Test of a general concept of justice: recognizing one's place in a group. Experience of injustice: experience of being placed in a place other than the place where the person who would stay in the group / receiving something other than what they expected to receive from others in the group / having to do something else than they thought they should do within the group. These experiences as force generators, because belonging to collectives generates force; Therefore, the experience of not being welcomed in the group as previously thought is an experience of deprivation of strength, to which one reacts by "pushing" to rediscover the lost forces.

B - From this definition, each type of group corresponds to a type of justice. The various concepts and their historical contexts: Universal justice responds to the sense of injustice of those who have suffered the effects of a forbidden conduct, in a community where someone has the means to punish those who adopted this conduct (chief, king). Commutative justice and distributive justice are distinguished in a community where a public sphere is distinguished where exchange relations are processed between equivalent benefits, and private spheres in which each receives according to his or her position. C - The concept of "social justice": the claim of "social justice" that arises during the 19th century. XIX, can also be related to a specific type of collectivity: the modern national society. Characteristics: clearly delimited by nationality; producing more than just what is needed for subsistence; divided by the formation, which results from the production process, of social categories that access in a notoriously unequal way to the products; which is supposed to govern itself through democratic institutions. The "social justice" that is claimed in a collectivity with these characteristics is "social" in the sense that (1) its reference collectivity is a "national society", (2) calls for the distribution of the proceeds of societal activity, (3) As regards the situation of whole categories of society, (4) it should result from decisions taken by society itself through political processes. -

D - Social justice and globalization: Two perspectives are proposed schematically: (a) Globalization leading to a demand for global social justice. In this sense: (1) circulation of information that favors in many places the perception of what is lived in other parts of the world; a worldwide discussion on human rights; factors that give substance to a notion of humanity as a concrete collective; (2) economic activity programmed to involve actors from around the world, and observed by specialized entities as global human activity; (3) perception of inequalities between regions of the world; inequalities across all regions (gender in particular). On the other hand (4): there are currently no structures for binding protection and redistribution policies at the global level. (B) Globalization by altering our perceptions of the collectives to which we belong to the extent that the corresponding sentiments of justice cannot be qualified, in a more precise sense, as aspirations to "social justice": (1) migrations, cultural changes, individualization, which could in the long term contribute to the integration of a world society, are currently undermining the contours of national societies (which may give rise to xenophobic reactions); (2) world productive activity is predatory; the redistributable product may stop growing and even shrink; (3) The diversity of the problems faced by regions makes it impossible to formulate effective claims comparable to those of the nation-wide working class of the late nineteenth-century. XX. Consider the difficulties of understanding in the social Forums that have been organized in the last decade; tensions between unions and NGOs representing other interests. (4) The political sphere is changed by the fact that states worldwide now coexist with large-scale private actors (multinationals, NGOs). States fail to structure national economies; they are constrained by the structures of the world economy (markets, international organizations committed to improving the functioning of these markets; companies choosing the states in which / through which they operate.) - In this context, the global claim is no longer just one of the best. redistribution of goods and services, but of a "decent" participation in societal activity, that is: under decent conditions and with some stability, particularly the ILO's views on "decent work".
E - Emergence of the notion of escalating justice: In a society that experiences an environmentally damaging collective action, with consequences for members of society, these questions arise: How do we distribute the benefits of harm reduction? How to ensure that the losses are no more than others? If you install a certain notion of other domains, inequalities in these matters will be experienced as injustices. The internalization of states that provide adequate protection against threats, loss and sanctions in the severe cases of pollution that affect the health and life of part of the population is experienced as injustices.

Discussion of these definitions: - important not to be limited to modern western societies. - do not forget that it is unlikely that a person belongs to only one group; belong to a multiplicity of groups, each generating different (un) justice experiences; - National states represent artificial contexts that can generate very varied collective belonging experiences. Moreover, it is far from peaceful and if you have the experience of an entity protected from violence, especially by the police. The state / police can be experienced as mainly exercising violations against people.



Lesson 6. Place of states in the globalization process.

Starting point: a text of Jürgen Habermas, “Tendencies toward Juridification” (1981).

About Habermas: linked to the “Frankfurt School”, but more optimistic than its founders, Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, for having witnessed how rapidly the world and Germany recovered from the II World War. Assumes that the potential of modern reason is ambivalent. So it is important to understand precisely how reason works. Reason develops out of communication, so what is at stake is to better understand how we communicate. This is why he devotes many years to the design of a theory of communicative action. Not his whole career, because he wants also to put this theory in practice. See his recent contributions on the conditions of Europe-wide public debates. – The text to be discussed is one of the last chapters of the book Theory of Communicative Action (1981). The book develops that theory; and this chapter aims at illustrating that theory, applying it to the development of the Rechtsstaat.  

Very short outline of the main component of Habermas' theory of communicative action: in modern societies we communicate in two very different ways. On the one hand, in highly codified ways, using symbols defined beyond our reach. Such kind of communication takes place in systems. In the economic system we use money; in political and administrative systems, we act according to formalized capacity of action (power). On the other hand by permanently constructing the meaning of the words we use, taking advantage of the experience of the world we share with the people with whom we interact. Habermas calls the domain of social reality where this takes place the "Lifeworld". Codified communication make social action possible at the scale of states or supranational arenas (Erasmus programme!); on the other hand it conditions our capacity of producing new meaning in the interactions in which we participate. One problem of modernity is to articulate these two types of communication. 

Habermas, concluding the book "Theory of Communicative Action" wanted to illustrate that theory with empirical examples. He found an example in researches about the law, on processes of "Juridification". Such processes appeared to him as good example of the impact of systemic communication on the communication in the lifeworld. - Historical process of differentiation of "systems" and "lifeworld". - Step 1: modern law allows the differentiation of the "media" that will make the development of the political and the economic system (p. 358). A "medium" (a concept borrowed to Parsons) is a mechanism facilitating the circulation of a certain meaning. Money allows the circulation of the meaning of economic value. The modern concept of power facilitates the communication about the right some person has to give orders to other people (as a policeman is allowed to do). - (b) The relations that could, from then on, be established between people and the state (all obeying the same rule), and between different persons (all having comparable rights to conclude contracts), gave increasing relevance to the relationship between people having the same rights, which means that the definitions of the social relationships deriving from certain local communities did loose their significance, and "abstracting from the historical substratum of pre-modern lifeforms” (p. 359). - Step 2: the sphere of the relationship between autonomous individuals acquire, one could say, substance, notably as an effect of cultural developments: it is the time when novels started to circulate thanks to printed books, and when a new demand for theatre appeared (see the importance, at that time, of the works of Shakespeare and Cervantes). The sphere where modern interaction is experienced is gaining "form" and is recognized by the state, which gives "actionable civil rights" to the people against the sovereign (p. 359). This is how modern lifeworld comes about, by the differentiation of personality, society and culture. During these two steps, the evolution of modern law corresponds to a continuous strengthening of the guarantees of liberty. - Step 3: With the independence of the USA and the Bourgeois Revolutions, people acquire political rights, and the state start to legitimize themselves in processes that give voice to the citizens. During this step, however, the evolution of the relationship between state and lifeworld is ambivalent. On the one hand, people have new rights; on the other hand, for the implementation of these rights, mechanisms are set up, that will create gaps between the political experience of the citizens and the functioning of the political system: political parties, governmental elites, mass media controlled by minorities, and so on. In this sense, the liberty of the people is limited (p. 364). - Step 4: the development of the economic system had generated severe inequalities. There will be attempts to compensate these inequalities through social rights. These social rights are likely to improve the material life conditions of people, but they also allow intrusive measures from the part of the state, impacting on personal relationships (for example between parents and children, or between professors and students. This type of intervention limits the possibility for people to define, by their own communicative action, in direct interaction, the meaning of the world in which they live, and the meaning of what they do, and to construct their own identity. – When he wrote this chapter, Habermas was mainly concerned with the development of the German state. 

A few years after the conclusion of the theory of communicative action, Germany could re-unified, after the fall of the Berlin Wall. From that moment on, it became crucial for Germany to re-define its place in Europe and in the World and Habermas started to work on what he called at that time the “Post-National Constellation”. Since then he published several papers on Europe and on the efforts to establish an international order. The concepts used to analyse the development of one state, Germany, proved to be useful for tackling these international issues. For two reasons: his analysis of the lifeworld allows to understand how people and topics of debate may circulate beyond national borders, giving rise to an – even if fragile – global public sphere; his analysis of the political and economic systems mat help to understand how the economy may develop on transnational markets, and how national political systems may develop mechanisms of cooperation with other national political systems.

In a second part of the class, discussion of the emergence of the working class as a political actor in this development of the state. Succeeds in organizing itself as a social movement at the end of the 19th century. In order to answer the demands of that social movement, the states develop social protection systems addressing the needs of the workers in the country. As a result, foreigners are to a significant neglected by these systems. Together with other similar processes, this leads to a situation in which law applies only to a part of the population, while another part is ignored, or even considered as enemy, or in extreme cases as non-human. Answering this trend, new social movements emerge, defending women, coloured people, regions and so on ("new social movements"). Recently new categories of people are becoming active, using social media ("very new social movements"), such as young people excluded from the world of labour. Apart from these social movements, organized players were created. Trade unions at the end of the 19th century; more recently NGOs. Among those organized players, it is worth mentioning the International Labour Organization, created in some way to counter the national closure of the industrial relation systems. During the cold war, its influence was on the one hand strengthened by the existence of the socialist bloc, which claimed to have achieved social justice, forcing the other side to develop its systems of social protection; but on the other hand, its action was severely conditioned precisely by the cold war and the necessity to remain its position between the two blocs. After the cold war, in the process called globalization (see previous classes), the ILO has had again more room for international political initiatives, actually in what could be named a competition with the WTO. But on the other hand, national governments, in the absence of a "socialist" bloc, are now much more reluctant in effectively recognizing the social rights of the people.


Lesson 5. Law, injustice, courts and several judicial paradigm


The feeling of watching or living an injustice produces a lot of personal and social energy. Such energy, anger, anguish must be directed. One way of directing the energies of such feelings is to complain and produce social agreement about the devaluation of injustice: in the abstract, for example, one should not kill. Formalizing such an agreement may be a recommendation not to kill. This can be done to war soldiers or police in repressive action. It can also be a prohibition on killing: the condemnation in principle of any action that produces, voluntarily or involuntarily, death.

The existence and persistence of the killing prohibition mean that there are many cases of murder. Ambiguity about the ban (it can be suspended in case of self-defense) means that the ban, the social agreement on law, is not enough to end homicidal problems and acts. What to do?

Institutions charged that deal with such problems are designed in ways to avoid ordinary people are tied to complicated judgment. Professionalizing law enforcement, social agreements about what injustices are and how they should be avoided, and social practices that can help create conditions for better social justice, save most people from thinking about injustices. Delivering justice to jurists and politicians, this allows us to think that generally, human actions are fair, even when this is not the case. Here work the logic of positive thinking. Even victims, whenever they can, they escape from their role as victims. They forget what has victimized them and devalue it.

Each human being is part of a species with great adaptability, with great plasticity. On the reverse side of the coin, each person needs, unlike ants and bees, to psychologically build their own identity, their person, which gives structure to the original plasticity, gives shape to the vast potentialities that cannot all be realized at the same time. We have to make choices in life and these choices define our personality and our identity. We thus become sensitive to whatever may be in the way between what we are and what we want to be. Especially if this is unfair, that is, if there are no reasons of similar value to prevent the fulfillment of one's wishes.

Law resulted from the specialized and professionalized culture that accumulates knowledge and ways of proceeding capable of minimizing injustices. The law serves owners and capitalism, as it does the social assertion of the dignity of women, when it is systematically seconded and when public outcry raises the aspiration to end the injustice of treating unequally what should be equal for all: respect for dignity. The law serves the powerful, including social movements contesting the powers of the powerful, whether to abolish them - when it comes to privileges - or to democratize them - when it comes to fundamental rights, such as human rights.

How do you mobilize against injustice to do justice? How do social energies created by existential reactions to the experience of injustice transform into justice protected by institutions?

There is the Talion rule, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, death for death, as still do the death penalty countries. This is an advance on the disproportionate retaliation practices with which the strongest crush the weakest in a vicious circle of retaliation. But it is possible to go further: to compensate any crime making time in isolation, based on a relation table between the type of crime and the number of years corresponding to the penalty. Or even further, especially when the crimes are so widespread that it is not possible or desirable to condemn them all: restorative justice. It is a justice of reconciliation, of creating conditions for the situation to be as it was before the crimes occurred. Continuing to think about how to do justice,
Generation Five considered adopting transformative justice.They diagnosed a structural social evil that creates the social conditions for child sexual abuse to occur. Experience has shown them that restorative justice, the maintenance of social conditions that favored the crime in question, depletes the energies of activists who support victims without social progress or of each person's situation. Although they have grasped the scale of the task they faced, they recommend start working as soon as possible on a task that they presume should occupy the next 5 generations: abolishing social conditions that allow for child sexual abuse, ie identifying and abolishing as unfair practices the processes of controlling human offspring, either by manipulating abandoned children or by conditioning women's freedom so that men control their children.


Lesson 4 - Social justice; October, the 16th


Comparing Sen´s theory of justice with his master, John Rawls, one does notice that capability concept implies a link between power and caring: between the ability to develop social power, and social production of people incorporating capability. The Rawls´ fairness proposal to guide professional jurists is widened out of the justice system, by Sen´s capability concept. Compromise with fairness by Rawls´s professional hierarchy, when delivering justice power to the public is substituted by Sen´s networking at the level of social caring.

Sen´s capability concept is interdisciplinary since he merges law, economy, sociological problems, different levels of reality. This is a rare achievement.

Hyper disciplinary trends within science and social sciences develop since the World War II as a support for allies’ war effort and economic and technological development of the US-centred western civilization. Social sciences critique become state-dependent, as happens also with natural sciences. Social sciences stop the move towards a full scientific status, becoming social sciences between humanities and natural sciences. As soft sciences, social sciences do not develop bridges: they develop walls between knowledges. On this, I recommend reading (Kuhn, 2016) and (Jim Schofield, 2018). The theoretical part of the scientific work is unprotected and devalued, and modelling and experimenting tasks of science are evaluated independently of the theoretical frames. That has negative consequences on the imagination of teachers and students, adding the consequences produced by modern screens (Desmurget, 2012).

Trying to bridge between subjects, such as globalization, human rights, and social justice, reveals the hyper disciplinary walls between different disciplinary insights into reality. To overcome these walls that hide reality behind its divided pieces, moralistic approaches (optimistic versus pessimistic approaches) substitute rational analysis. Ideologies become as much or even more important than looking to reality.

Compare the “pessimistic” introductory chapter of this UN document,
"Social Justice in an Open World" and the “optimistic” discourse of WB: Global Poverty Declines Even Amid Economic Slowdown, World Bank Says.

Instead of imagining and evaluating how can we do it differently, we are divided between those who prefer to show the best and those who prefer to show the worst of the same reality. Sometimes, the same person changes of side inasmuch political power change. For instance, for optimistic proposes, one can use technology dreaming that all problems can be and will be solved. For pessimistic proposes, one can refer to inequality stats that refer to difficult lives without really showing or describing them, to avoid repugnance of the readers and the victims blaming.


In summary: Assessments of the state of social justice today depend more on the position of the observer, depending on whether s/he feels or wishes to be for or against the status quo. Knowledge about the state of societies, necessarily transdisciplinary, becomes second rows reference. For example, assessments of the state of capability are never mentioned, despite Amartya Sen's prestige.

Desmurget, M. (2012). TV Lobotomie : La vérité scientifique sur les effets de la télévision. Retrieved from
Jim Schofield. (2018). The Real Philosophy of Science. Smashwords.
Kuhn, M. (2016). How the Social Sciences Think about the World´s Social - Outline of a Critique. Retrieved from


Lesson 3 - Globalization, Human Rights and justice; October, the 9th

David Harvey: Marx and the capital in 21rst century (6:10-52:30)

"The critical discourse reproduces the same Eurocentric vision of the world it disapproves. (...) The way reflexivity has been implemented is not working; and brandishing it like critical standard or a practice easy to achieve locks the system. (...) we do not see the technicisation of science in which we take part. (...) The normalisation of transactional relations desociologise and depoliticise science. (...) It is a vicious loop reproducing hoe social sciences socialise into thinking, being and doing the world. (...) Discourses that promoter emancipation but do not reflexively transform dispositions doubly participate in reproduction."

Audrey Alejandro, Western Dominance in International Relations? The Internationalisation of IR in Brazil and India, London, Routledge, 2017: 200.

American Marxist geographer David Harvey gave a talk in Brazil. He called for support to the political projects of the Communist Party of China, notably with its project of achieving socialism in 2050.

He does approve some actions of the state in China e he does not know what Chinese leaders refer to as socialism. Still, it is the only hope of "masses" that it sees as able to overcome the actual historical phase of hegemony of capitalism.
In other times, this attitude would be considered national treason, is not seen the same way today. In addition to Harvey's position, we can see official accusations of treason against the US President for seeking to negotiate electoral dividends with foreign heads of state. Some spokesmen for the Hong Kong protesters called for outside intervention, in the case of the US president, against the authorities of their own country.

The way of living the nationalisms, the authoritarianism, the freedoms, are today different from the way of living a few decades ago. The fear factor is still present, but instead of just fearing nuclear war, today we are also afraid of crime, terrorism, professional evaluations that drive people out of their jobs and at least the peace of mind that allow them to identify with their professions, the political and social assessments that 5G technologies threaten to trivialize, starting in China, the use of Big Data to interfere with elections has already become a public concern.

Human rights have experienced a growing influence since its inception, following a formal declaration symbolically adopted in 1948, just after the end of World War II until President Carter's (in the late 1970s) political choice of give priority to human rights in its foreign policy. In the following decade, the protection of human rights served as justification for the first of many UN, NATO, US preventive military interventions (in Somalia) that were systematically violating human rights and everywhere they open wounds till day.

Human rights motivate excessive expectation in the way mere statements (by politicians) can be put into practice (by states, by the military). They also motivate an excess of criticism, which can lead to throwing the child (humanitarian intentions and recommendations) with bathwater into the river (there is no purely humanitarian practices, outside the world that produces also geostrategic domination and exploitation). Excesses that make the human rights movement both a space of vanity and a serious risk for its most exposed activists, when political regimes feel hit by allegations of human rights violations and, instead of ending the social and political conditions favoring such violations powerful people prefer to censor the circulation of information about the existence of human rights violations.

Claiming human rights gives no power, although it can give prestige that can be transferred to power, as in the cases of Gandhi or Mandela or Martin Luther King.

Treating every human being with the least dignity opposes those who are against and those in favor, those who understand the punishment of enemies as a way of saving themselves and those who understand that the humiliation and annulment of human beings, regardless of what they are and what they do, is always a criminal act and against all humanity. History shows the succession of different general social and political sensitivities, when death punishments are often applied or when such punishments are abolished, when legitimate judicial penalties are often applied or when states are restrained in the use of penalties, when states turn a blind eye to the existence of militia groups that spread violence and terror or when they strive to end it. Also, people, by character, can be discriminatory and violent or against discrimination and violence. Throughout their life experience, regardless of character, people interpret it in order to soften and relativize it or to affirm it and turn it into practical action, depending on the social support they find for it.

The Cold War competition of social organization (bourgeois versus popular democracy) in the first half of the twentieth century in time of globalization turned into state competition for global financial resources, by the 1990s and the early 21st century. During this span of time, in rich countries, fear of nuclear holocaust and aliens’ invasions has been replaced by fear of drug trafficking and Islamic terrorists. Today, the fear of the ecological holocaust and the transfer of the seat of the empire between the US and China have joined the other social fears.

Moravcsik notes that post-war human rights regimes are interpreted in very different ways: some say they are a Western, imperialist ideology to crush other peoples, and other civilizations; others say they are idealistic statements that have their positive consequences, although they never fully deliver on the promises that underlie the human rights claim because they are not considered in economic negotiations; Finally, another trend of opinion states that the existence of international institutions, congresses, conventions, agreements, courts, that evoke human rights, and their continuity and influence on social, moral and political life, is a guarantee of the best possible, formal and practical, enhance of the initial proclamation intentions.

Amartya Sen, continuing his master Thomas Kuhn's reflection on justice, evolve the concept of fairness into the concept of capability, of social production of empowered people. Not only are jurists, through their influence in states, responsible for creating the conditions for justice; the economy and the society are also fundamental and even more important to achieve this propose.

It is not enough to react to injustices in an institutional manner, but rather to create political, moral and economic conditions to ensure practical respect for human rights precepts, measurable through the real empowerment of each person and society to self-determine their own actions. Rather than organizing equal opportunities or fighting inequalities, Sen envisages the possibility of a general system for the prevention of injustices, to prevent them from happening, based on justice, that is, on the general orientation of social production of capabilities in each and every person.


Lesson 2 - Globalization; October, the 2nd

Globalization is a new word, about 30 years old. Globalization looks good (mondialisation, the direct access to social media of virtually each and every person until recently reserved for intellectuals (scientists, journalists, politicians, high-level entrepreneurs). This century started with anti and alter-globalization movements showing its bad aspects: the continuation of poverty, of the motives for wars, of discriminations, of inequality between people and countries, protection of the perpetrators and deprotection or even condemnation of the victims, etc.

When we try to define analytically what globalization is, it is understood to be a reference to a phenomenon that is both singularly present, never lived before, and a phenomenon that is the evolution of other previous phenomena, such as the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the extraction of precious minerals by the West and East Indian companies, the appropriation of exotic products, the Discoveries, the Crusades, the Christianization of the world, the expansion of the Roman Empire, or even the departure of the first humans from Africa.
Therefore, globalization is a current discovery - in language - and a present reality for a long time over millennia in different forms (for instance in the form of money; read David Graeber The Debt (Spanish version also available on the internet)). A reality that refers to a human construction produced through the evolution of the species on Earth. It is an expression that designates a center emitting an ineluctable wave, for some a tsunami, for others a pleasant bath. It builds positive and negative aspects, like everything in life. The biggest problem is that the positive and negative aspects separate as if they were a wall, the people from each other, the beneficiaries and the victims of globalization, the winners and the losers as if they were of different species. One result of globalization is also the relative loss of influence of the diffusion center of globalization - the Washington consensus - within the US presidency itself (with Trump and his nationalist politics) and within the world, which has already realized that soon it will be Beijing the imperial center. The winners of imperial headquarters struggle not to become losers of imperial headquarters, as before happened to Rome, Aix-la-Chapelle, Lisbon, Madrid, London.

Is it possible for bridge production to become stronger than wall production among humans? How could it have happened in the 1970s, though fleetingly?

One of the most attractive and promising aspects of globalization was the promise of the end of ideologies, of the ideology struggles in the name of abstract ideas - such as capitalism and communism - as the religious wars had already ended. Experience, however, shows precisely the opposite: religious wars have returned with the clash of civilizations largely fueled by the empire, and struggles for ideologies are not only over, but are being updated, as seems to be the case with the need to integrate in a more prominent place the so called gender ideology and the ecological problems of which the UN recently spoke, with the help of Greta Thunberg. All this while increasing popular adherence to religious sects founded on irrational beliefs and Nazi-fascist-inspired parties.

The discredit of science produced in recent decades, without sufficient reaction from the sciences, is translating not only into strong support for the faith that God will not forsake us at the time of climate change but also in support of the nationalist faith, the return to the mythical glorious past that no one lived.

Instead of using science to deal with new and recent language phenomena - such as studying what the latest ideologies call globalization - it is perhaps preferable to use science to study an integral (at the same time biological, social and normative) phenomenon much older and deeper: the empire, the spirit of the empire, from which we all benefit and suffer more and more. Empire that modernly took forms of nation-state (very different from case to case and from epoch to epoch), instrumentalizing capitalism. Capitalism that instrumentalized globalization as the central concept of its postindustrial, financier, postmodern, informatic ideology, masking its real dependence on the empire, that is, on what economists call trust and politicians call legitimacy.

Image result for Torre Babel Imagem

Bebel Tower

Over the past half-dozen millennia, the imperial spirit has been developed, reaching more and more people, enabling the building of empires and institutions that can withstand such unstable things as the Babel towers. Banal discriminations were conceived as means of separating people in the service of the divide-and-rule policy, presenting such policies as good, necessary, in the public interest, and certainly justifying the existence and persistence of elites.

Cognitive and scientific specializations are undoubtedly useful. But they are not necessarily insurmountable walls: all singular reality is confused with the whole in some way. All reality requires and allows bridges. The particular configurations with which differences become discriminatory stigmas in favor of the elites as if they were an irreparable practical necessity. Globalization presented itself concealing the evolution of empire-building processes as the material and cultural realization of avant-garde humanity serving the elites.

It is not possible, probably it is not desirable, to abolish the empire. But there are ways of constructing it in each of us, and in society, in less stigmatizing ways - for example, if sign languages were used as universal languages - and more rational - making more room for scientific freedom and the so neglected in recent decades prestige of sciences.

Lesson 1 - Globalization; September, the 25th

The students that talk about “globalization” express gratitude (to be able to study abroad, for instance) and hope (that the path to a humanity friendship will continue).

Hope was the trademark when the use of the word globalization started, in the 80´s. In Portugal, those who lived this time would remember the hope generated by the chance of being included in “Europe”; the Europe we knew following the stories of emigration. Rich Europa (former Economic European Community) decided to accept Southern European countries, former dictatorships to raise them to democracy and development.

New information technologies and export of industries and capital out of rich countries allegedly open opportunities to convergence of economies, inside the enlarged EEC and worldwide. The international institutions that maintain together those European countries (European Union) become references inspiring other continental essays of efforts of togetherness to get democracy and development elsewhere in the world. In the 80´s, worldwide there are other international institutions that are moving proactively to deliver a new international order (The older is the ILO – International Labour organization (1919); others are WTO, IMF, WB, HWO, FAO, and UN). New post-colonial states fight to integrate US or USSR spheres of influence. Some of them tried to escape this alternative. Anyway, there was a lot of demand for capital and goods to modernize, industrialize, all countries in the world. Free circulation for them was provided. This will not include people.

Since the end of II WW European rich countries joined the US and UK with democratic institutions, that were different from what was running in socialist regimes, former allies during the war, and also different from fascist-nazi regimes that were defeated at the war. In the 80´s the hope of exporting democracy also emerged. And emerged a radical idea on freedom: corporations should be able to self-determination, out of state control. Everyone, including corporations, should be able to manage directly its own influence at the political level pushing decision making to what one thinks is best (for each one interest).

Global village, new and easier ways of express oneself, communication supported by electronic technologies, foresee an integrated humanity, the political right to push state decision making, access to schooling and university, access to products from all over the world, to travel everywhere touring, big expansion of professions based on science, knowledge available at internet, etc. All this presents an auspicious world if we do not compare it to Jetson´s world foreseen by the 60´s cartoons. The XXI century is not so much good as it was expected by futurists. Anyway, there are plenty of good things to enjoy.

The main afflictive and obvious problem is environmental. Because it seems to affect everybody´s lives. Poverty and wars, even they still are with us, we do not get involved with them. Surrounded as we are by advertising, most of us choose the alienation of problems one does not have a clue how to help to solve, of course. We do not have any real choice. We, too, are stuck in our life routines, as everybody else.

The best-educated generation ever is stuck facing global problems that rose the last decades, accompanying globalization. It seems we do not have the power to do much, except claim to higher asking for action. Elites, however, do not deliver action, too. Maybe they too do not know what to do, except the same routine again and again.

This course is about estimates of growing or not social justice we are living in and respect to human rights since globalization arrived in town. Some still love globalization; some people prefer “mondialization”, a human globalization, other people talk about alter-globalization, coming from the “South”, pushing upside down what is going on. More recently, about the rise of populism/fascism, some say that globalization is dying.

Fall  semestre 2018

December, the 5th 

Presentations of the work of the international groups, by Maike + Nandy (group 2), Bernardo (g.7) and Bo (g.16).

November, the 28th 

Presentations of the work of the international group 9, by Alexandre Gomes and Ana Cláudia Carvalho, and of group 19, by Abdulkadir Pamuk and Verica Poposka.

November, the 21th

A critical view of the world history, from an African perspective. By Flávio Almada. Discussion.

November, the 14th

The celebration of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I is a good opportunity to expand on the topic of the states developing in a world becoming international / global.

The two world wars could be considered as having revealed two destructive trends related to the existence of national states. On the one hand, national states, by developing considerable means of power, and by stimulating the expectations of their populations to obtain returns from what they invest in their state, are likely to develop interests and activities colliding with those of other states, which make armed conflicts between national states probable. World War I could be explained as a result of the development of different national states in Europe. On the other hand, there is a risk for the states to use their formidable to exercise violence against their own population. This is what happened in the totalitarian regimes that appeared after World War I, and which were at the origin of World War II. Those two historical experiences inspired the foundation of the United Nations, and the adoption of an international regime of human rights protection. For decades, this regime was based mainly on international conventions, i.e. binding legal documents.

Examples of such conventions are the conventions of the International Labour Organization, which was created after World War I, together with the League of Nation. These conventions aim at answering the problems faced by workers worldwide. Which brings us to one of the topics of this class. One problem that the ILO faces in recent years is the fact that many activities are carried out in contexts where trade unions do not play the central role they played in the industrial society. This led the ILO to expand its activities in such contexts. An example of this strategy is a convention on domestic work. In that domain, the ILO had to develop relations with other types of civil society actors. The process of elaboration of this convention is documented on a page of the website the ISCTE-IUL course on sociology of law.

Later, in the face of the difficulties to implement such conventions, more relevance was given to non binding instruments (soft law), which have basically symbolic functions of stabilizing a common language and of indicating possible guidelines. At this very moment, the hostility of national public opinions towards globalization motivates the refusal of even these “soft law” mechanisms. An example of this recent trend can be observed the case of the Migration Compact recently negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations and which should be adopted in December. Several governments have recently announced they would not sign the document. In Germany and Switzerland, this matter is an issue of public debate and decisions could be taken soon.

In relation to the anniversary of the end of World War I, students are encouraged to read the speech of António Guterres opening the Peace Forum which took place in Paris at that occasion. Interesting to see how a person responsible for an organization that should play a key role in the efforts of organizing actions towards global challenges formulates the political programme of that organization and tries to take advantage of this anniversary to gather support for that programme. Also noteworthy are these two facts: the discourse has been almost ignored by reference media which are supposed to participate in the formation of global public sphere; ordinary citizens’ comments published on the UN website are, in general, very difficult to be used as contributions to the discussion of that programme. It proves to be hard to run a global debate, even when issues should be tackled not only locally but also globally.

Warning the students: please, be ware of opening speach of António Guterres at the Paris Peace Forum , November 11th 2018.
English Summary. Video in French at France 24.
Full text in French and English at UN website

November, the 7th

About the place of states in the globalization process. Starting point: a text of Jürgen Habermas, “Tendencies of Juridification” (1981).

About Habermas: linked to the “Frankfurt School”, but more optimistic than its founders, Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, for having witnessed how rapidly the world and Germany recovered from the II World War. Assumes that the potential of modern reason is ambivalent. So it is important to understand precisely how reason works. Reason develops out of communication, so what is at stake is to better understand how we communicate. This is why he devotes many years to the design of a theory of communicative action. Not his whole career, because he wants also to put this theory in practice. See his recent contributions on the conditions of Europe-wide public debates. – The text to be discussed is one of the last chapters of the book Theory of Communicative Action (1981). The book develops that theory; and this chapter aims at illustrating that theory, applying it to the development of the Rechtsstaat.

Very short outline of the main component of Habermas' theory of communicative action: in modern societies we communicate in two very different ways. On the one hand, in highly codified ways, using symbols defined beyond our reach. Such kind of communication takes place in systems. In the economic system we use money; in political and administrative systems, we act according to formalized capacity of action (power). On the other hand by permanently constructing the meaning of the words we use, taking advantage of the experience of the world we share with the people with whom we interact. Habermas calls the domain of social reality where this takes place the "Lifeworld". Codified communication make social action possible at the scale of states or supranational arenas (Erasmus programme!); on the other hand it conditions our capacity of producing new meaning in the interactions in which we participate. One problem of modernity is to articulate these two types of communication.

Habermas, concluding the book "Theory of Communicative Action" wanted to illustrate that theory with empirical examples. He found an example in researches about the law, on processes of "Juridification". Such processes appeared to him as good example of the impact of systemic communication on the communication in the lifeworld. - Historical process of differentiation of "systems" and "lifeworld". - Step 1: modern law allows the differentiation of the "media" that will make the development of the political and the economic system (p. 358). A "medium" (a concept borrowed to Parsons) is a mechanism facilitating the circulation of a certain meaning. Money allows the circulation of the meaning of economic value. The modern concept of power facilitates the communication about the right some person has to give orders to other people (as a policeman is allowed to do). - (b) The relations that could, from then on, be established between people and the state (all obeying the same rule), and between different persons (all having comparable rights to conclude contracts), gave increasing relevance to the relationship between people having the same rights, which means that the definitions of the social relationships deriving from certain local communities did loose their significance, and "abstracting from the historical substratum of pre-modern lifeforms” (p. 359). - Step 2: the sphere of the relationship between autonomous individuals acquire, one could say, substance, notably as an effect of cultural developments: it is the time when novels started to circulate thanks to printed books, and when a new demand for theatre appeared (see the importance, at that time, of the works of Shakespeare and Cervantes). The sphere where modern interaction is experienced is gaining "form" and is recognized by the state, which gives "actionable civil rights" to the people against the sovereign (p. 359). This is how modern lifeworld comes about, by the differentiation of personality, society and culture. During these two steps, the evolution of modern law corresponds to a continuous strengthening of the guarantees of liberty. - Step 3: With the independence of the USA and the Bourgeois Revolutions, people acquire political rights, and the state start to legitimize themselves in processes that give voice to the citizens. During this step, however, the evolution of the relationship between state and lifeworld is ambivalent. On the one hand, people have new rights; on the other hand, for the implementation of these rights, mechanisms are set up, that will create gaps between the political experience of the citizens and the functioning of the political system: political parties, governmental elites, mass media controlled by minorities, and so on. In this sense, the liberty of the people is limited (p. 364). - Step 4: the development of the economic system had generated severe inequalities. There will be attempts to compensate these inequalities through social rights. These social rights are likely to improve the material life conditions of people, but they also allow intrusive measures from the part of the state, impacting on personal relationships (for example between parents and children, or between professors and students. This type of intervention limits the possibility for people to define, by their own communicative action, in direct interaction, the meaning of the world in which they live, and the meaning of what they do, and to construct their own identity. – When he wrote this chapter, Habermas was mainly concerned with the development of the German state.

A few years after the conclusion of the theory of communicative action, Germany could re-unified, after the fall of the Berlin Wall. From that moment on, it became crucial for Germany to re-define its place in Europe and in the World and Habermas started to work on what he called at that time the “Post-National Constellation”. Since then he published several papers on Europe and on the efforts to establish an international order. The concepts used to analyse the development of one state, Germany, proved to be useful for tackling these international issues. For two reasons: his analysis of the lifeworld allows to understand how people and topics of debate may circulate beyond national borders, giving rise to an – even if fragile – global public sphere; his analysis of the political and economic systems mat help to understand how the economy may develop on transnational markets, and how national political systems may develop mechanisms of cooperation with other national political systems.

October, the 31th


Discussion of the notion of globalization: “Globalization” has been a very fashionable topic between the late 1980s and the 2000s. It appeared in debates about, on the one hand, the advances in communication technologies and, on the other hand, the end of the cold war and the efforts, intensified after the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1989, to globalize economic and financial activities, notably with the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1994. Years later, another topic revealed the perception of the complexity of the ongoing processes: glocalization. Meaning that even in times of globalization, local initiatives were still the source of many global processes, and that global impact of certain goods, places, etc. was due to local characteristics. More radically, at the end of the 1990s, social movements started to protest against what they considered an unacceptable form of globalization – one important moment: protests at the occasion of a WTO-minister conference organized in Seattle in November 1999 –, trying to promote other forms of globalization (some call them “counter-hegemonic globalization”). This gave rise to the organization of the World Social Forum, which had its first meeting in 2001 in Porto Alegre in Brazil. At the same time the conditions of international cooperation deeply changed as a consequence of the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, in September 2011. In the very last years, nationalist reactions against international migrations, as well as against the trend of globalizing markets and, correspondingly, empowering international organizations promoting of these trends (EU, NAFTA), are gaining momentum in many countries (see in particular Walden Bello, 2017, “It’s Not Only Necessary to Develop an Alternative to Globalization — It’s Entirely Possible”, available on the Portuguese course website). The topic of globalisation, in this context, has lost its centrality.

To carefully analyse these recent evolutions, one has to go beyond the notion of globalization that dominated and recently disappeared public debate. If one gives to this concept a more technical meaning (as Manfred B. Steger does in his chapter “Globalization: a contested concept, 2003, available on the Portuguese course website), the following questions may be asked. Firstly, does globalization start in the late 1980s? Obviously not. There were processes likely to be qualified as globalization since the origins of humanity. In particular the time of the Discoveries, when Portugal expanded its control over significant parts of the world. Short discussion with the students about the debate about similar periods in the history of the Netherland. Another phase to be considered to understand current evolution is the process of internationalization, intensified after World War II, consisting in the institutionalization of means of cooperation between states (international organizations) with the aim of avoiding future world wars and totalitarianism. In the context of this process, human rights were promoted as principles which should be shared by the states. One way of analysing what happens in these years is to examine how the process of international promotion of human rights relates to the process of implementing global markets. - Secondly, has globalization stopped in recent years, now that the word ceased to be used so frequently? Obvioulsy not. Among other recent processes, one should pay attention to the efforts of China to build new alliances for globalizing economic exchanges under the heading of New Silk Road (see link Amigos da Nova Rota da Seda on the Portuguese course website). Another, at a completely different level, is the consistent development of NGOs active in particular in the domain of human rights. But there is a gap between their conceptions of human rights and the perception of many people not involved in these initiatives of their own rights and of the rights of other people. Especially the rights of foreigners and migrants.

October, the 24th

Sen´s human rights

Each class do have reference papers to be read by students beforehand. Sometimes pupils do not have the time to read it. Time is a scarce resource to everyone. However, there are techniques to rapid reading: one can look at the title, the name of the author, the date of the publishing, the bibliography. Using these information by googling them one can see what shows up as context of the author and his/her work. With some information to frame the paper, one should look to the introduction-presentation and to the conclusion. Then, looking at the various parts of the paper one can try to trace the paths of main argument.

Amartya Sen is a Nobel prize awarded economist who wrote a 2006 seminar book on "An idea of Justice". He is a liberal Indian-British scholar concerned on his mother land social problems and willing to merge moral and economic thinking, such as Adam Smith, the founder of liberal economic thinking, also did in his own way.

His book is an answer to 1971 John Rawls "Theory of Justice". This book opens juridical thinking to economic and social thinking, claiming to voluntarist action of the juridical professions to achieve fairness. Instead of equality, claimed by communist regimes, Rawls´s idea was to present fairness on judicial processes as the legal part of the fight for social justice. State economic interventionism should be strength by juridical interventionism for fairness, which means – in a very simplistic way – to deliver as much as possible positive discrimination to non-affluent people.

His book was at the same time acclaimed and criticized. It shows a way of delivering better social justice, reinforcing political and judicial efforts in that direction. It was utopic, because it was voluntarist and jurist did not follow his advices. Entering the neoliberal era, by the 80´s, the paternalistic voluntarism state reverse its relationship with social justice. No more it was a first priority.

Sen´s book appears as a new try to define justice. The new measure of justice would not be fairness: it would be capability of the people, the practical results of empowerment: is not enough and do not solve problems of injustice the positive discrimination for those victims of injustice. One needs to assure everyone the opportunity to struggle for their rights their own way, not only in legal or economic arenas, but also in every field of social existence.

Human rights, he wrote, need to be better understood. What are the practical bases for human rights thinking and for its effectiveness? What kind of social-economic-legal phenomena makes human rights happening or not? What capacitate people to follow human rights intentions?

One answer is that the new modern power reinforce single people powers, individuals influence, and these should continue to be reinforced. Another answer is that the social movements impose themselves to the state and to institutions, empowering more people. For all that Sen use the capability word to mention the individual power to respect human rights. Because he knows many people that would benefit and agree with human rights thinking are not able to claim their own rights.

These questioning must also look another way: to the people that stay out of modern empowerments and are victims of modernization, such slaves, first people, people framed by the state in wars and in political struggles, poor people, imprisoned people. Imposed integration of everyone in modern life implies too many times human rights violations, as with immigrants and refugees.

Before WW2 most legal statements were about obligations and few about rights. Bourgeois has the right of property and workers have to obligation to work. The recognition of political economic rights to workers (and women) were proposed and developed in Europe, after the war. By the eighties, aside workers, very different kind of groups claim to be victims of injustice, such as students, women, pacifists, ecologists, LGBTI people, etc. They all ask for recognition of their special needs not admitted by society and/or institutions.

UN developed a sector of bargaining open to social movements, through NGO´s participation. Today it is possible to participate in global declarations, such as this one about sustainable development, pushing some statements up and other down of the declaration. Meanwhile, contradictory processes of reproduction of the same problems, such as discrimination, poverty, war, are still working out of control.

Human rights regime is, as mention by Moravcsik, at the same time, imperial north-American strategy to show moral superiority, an utopic and inspiring hope to unite humanity as one, and, also, the institutional processes inspired by human rights declarations.

October, the 17th

Sustainable development

After a dialogue with the participants on the progress of the work of the international groups, two documents were presented for analysis: a demonstration of commitment by the ISCTE's rectory to follow up on and participate in UN proposals for sustainable development.
It is a document with a global scope. It is a product of diplomatic instances that involve not only states but also experts and NGOs.

The United Nations maintains a set of fora to deal with several themes, very different from each other, certainly contradictory internally and externally to each one. Once a diplomatically consensual agreement is reached - where the states and especially the most powerful states, particularly those on whom the UN finances depend, have undeniable extra weight - even the most awkward claims, if rational, can be consider, even possibly at a level or with an emphasis less than would be fair and necessary.

It is better like that than as before, being simply omitted. It is less good than actually being taken into account. For example, the topic economic growth resulted from an unbalanced synthesis between this and quality employment. The topic was a way of conciliating, which was omitted in the more syntactic version of the statement of slogans that designate the official objectives. What comes out in a big way is what was considered main label to designate a set of problems. The levels of greater disaggregation of these problems are written in longer and more detailed lower-level documents. One can imagine a set of alliances being organized to push a topic a little higher up and a little lower. In the hope that, at the moment of the final fixation of the UN position, each one one support will be represented in the best way, in a holistic but chaotic general framework that involve contradictions presented in arbitrary articulation with different levels of information, all resulting from the negotiation processes.

The practical implementation of the measures thus envisaged as good or better depends not on a budget to carry them out, but on the goodwill of governments, organizations and individuals capable of mobilizing and mobilizing resources for these purposes.

The document is therefore a guide, an encyclopedia and an inspiration for all those who have or want to take public or private responsibility for budget execution or to think about what will be the best investments.

In the field of science, first the government and then the institutions under its tutelage, and now also some universities, such as ISCTE, have decided to disseminate the UN document and to appeal to the contribution of all to the accomplishment of the goals set forth therein, reserving a stimulus budget for such initiatives.

The question that always arises when looking to such documents - recommendations without legal force and without previously associated resources to ensure that someone is held accountable so that the objectives can be effectively fulfilled - is the part of these goals that will leave the paper and the partial and parsimonious way of using the perspectives that interest one, and abandoning those that are uncomfortable, does not result in the general failure of the announced intentions.

October, the 11th

Social Justice

 Justice can be understood as the restoration of a sense of tranquillity, of security, regarding the recognition of a person’s position in a certain social group. A feeling of injustice is the feeling of uneasiness for being in a situation of disrespect of that position.

Feelings of injustice depend, therefore, on the implicit or explicit rules on how to treat the different people belonging to a certain group. Such rules may be rules of equality or of differences in the treatment of people, according to their condition (age group, sex, gender) and position (leadership, wise people, mystical people). Rules that can be explicit in laws, necessarily incompletely. Laws that can be very different from one another: they can be moral recommendations, rules of protocol or criminal laws, for instance.

The classics distinguished three forms of justice: (a) General justice, which means the observance of the rules prevailing in a community. This form of justice applies in communities where somebody has the means to enforce such rules. (b) Commutative justice, applied between non-cohabiting equals, market-type, where it is possible, in case of conflicts between equals, to call a judge to decide on this conflict. (c) Distributive justice, which applies among people who co-exist and organize a division of labour for economic and business purposes, one would say today, and where somebody – the head of the community – is in condition to enforce the existing rules of distribution.

Social justice, an expression that emerged in the late nineteenth century, refers to a specific form of distributive justice, as if people living in a territory within political borders under the sovereignty of a state cohabit, in the classical sense. The terms appear in the debates about the response of the ruling classes to the difficulties of the workers' lives that made them less productive or even escaping into the land of freedom, the Americas. In these debates, the notion of “social justice” combines four claims: (i) that there is such a thing as society (within the national borders); (ii) that entire categories of people experience problems requiring a response from the part of society; (iii) that this response can take advantage of the capacity of the society to produce wealth; (iv) that this society is in condition to take the decisions and the concrete measures necessary for answering the problems. In this context, the measures actually taken by government also had the aim of  countering social movements of political rupture that expressed the desire for an idealized justice to be obtained in worker-led societies, multiplying worldwide the local initiatives of self-organization in various fields created by labour associations. Social justice as a way of constructing nations out of the division of classes, also described as class struggle. And, in this way, to break the 19th century anti-war internationalism organized in the name of the workers, successfully.

After the Second World War, the victory of anti-Nazi nationalism was confronted with the mutual opposition of two empires: one representing freedom and the other equality, as different principles of social organization and promotion of social justice. To which in Western Europe, geographically in the middle of the two Imperial territories, corresponded the Social State, or mixed state-market economy or social democracy. It resulted from the adoption of the American way of life for the reconstruction of what would become the most developed countries funded by the Marshall Plan and nucleus of now a day European Union.
The debates on social justice in Europe were organized around three topics, which one can optionally add a fourth: integration of a national society with rights of citizenship for all, women, youth, nomads, immigrants ; the denial of exclusion of categories of people, according to gender, ethnicity, religion, ideology; the distribution of income so as not to jeopardize the physical survival of each and every one. The latter also discusses different social support options, such as the universality of such support, such as free education or health, or making such support dependent on the needs of the assisted persons evaluated by competent technical services.

These debates have been and are outside environmental issues, which nonetheless emerge as evident serious international problems, the consideration of which is taken into account by the UN´s programs for a sustainable economy. This implies not only treating distributive justice but also productive justice, in ways that respects the environment. Which leads to another concept of justice: environmental justice.


October, the 3rd

Course presentation, groups organization and

introduction to Globalization, Social Justice and Human Rights

What is real and what is just words, when one speaks about globalization, social justice or human rights?

Human rights principles are violated everywhere in the world. Human right activists are killed in many countries, and are nor welcomed in many others. Why human rights declarations are so much ineffective? Why words of human rights activists are hateful by some people, as extreme right politicians, and states, mainly at the security and military branches? Why no one is arrested regarding globalization or social justice talking?

One set of answers come with the explanation that wording activities are as much real as actions are. The representation one have of the world, even wrong representations, are as much real as biological life or technologies. Trying to find out the different ways how words, such as those that are used as title of our course, have emerged and have been used since then, is relevant to knowledge. As much as knowledge about technology is only about instruments used by people, not about the uses people do with it, one relevant part of sociological knowledge (especially the theoretical part of sociological research) is only about the imagination people develop about what is their own lives, including everyday life, working life, school life, political life, social life, etc., and not about the way machine and ideological technologies are used by powerful people, via states and economic institutions. The uses of technology (machine or words) are double: what one can imagine about these uses – how the world could become with the right use of what is available to our common abilities and knowledge – and what are the practical uses of what we have – how the world really is running.

The same problems exists in medicine, when existing vaccines or curative medicine are too expensive to be available for everyone, including poor countries and people; problems exist in economics, when transparency is claimed to be needed to get healthy market effects, even when there are regulators to compel it in energy, finance, or other sectors, and, still, corruption seems to be everywhere, as greedy seems to overcome economic rationality when it comes to management. Also in social sciences the same kind of problems exists. Lack of transparency in wording and inefficiency of peer review to overcome obstacles to scientific knowledge. Maybe the study of the law, the power of the word enforced by courts and police, help us to understand better what are we talking about.

The law is a way of imposing state power and, at the same time, it is also a way to produce and diffuse morals in society. For one hand, property laws are about enforcing different economic opportunities to people with and without property (property as means of production, means of survival) and, for the other hand, the recognition by law of sexual assault crimes or different sexual orientations are useful, instrumental, to change mentalities and free many people from non-visible and unknown oppressive social traps of victimization. For sure, enforcement of property or of sexual assault laws are not effective every time, everywhere. They are plenty of exceptions of people out of their property rights and sexual safety rights. Court´s decisions are, sometimes – or even often – against the spirit of the law, as when the law of freedom of speech is used to develop misleading marketing or political propaganda, invading the media with fake news. Courts are powerless to regulate these trends. Irrationality becomes mainstream, even in times when 10 or more years of compulsory education is the rule for everyone.

Social analysis of the uses of words is relevant part of the job of social sciences. As well it is main part of the job of jurists. They are professionals that work with words and procedure rules, representing social realities in their own biased ways to fulfil institutional proposes of the courts, of prisons, of police. That is, also, the way citizens have the chance to claim to law against the powerful, better than it was possible before modern times. Law enables NGO´s and citizens to organize claims to adoption of new laws or to state action to enforce the laws or to do it in a right way. The power of the written words is that anyone who can read and is enough confident on his interpretation of the law (those who have access to good lawyers) can use the law as instrument to make his/her interests prevail. Even so, injustice still happens everywhere, every time.

Discussing words is tricky. Nevertheless, one can learn many "real" things about the world studying the words. We can understand, for instance, that there are different words used in different social strata: social justice is used referring to internal national situations and globalization is used referring super national institutions and lives. That means that there are, at least, two different social worlds inside our complex social world. Two worlds with different and conflicting institutions, such as international institutions (IMF or WB or ILO, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, International Labour Organization), regional organizations (EU or ECB, European Union, European Central Bank) and national state institutions as well as local institutions. Globalization refers the power of international institutions, as UN or those NGO´s that work within UN work frame.

All these impressive international structures use their own language and words in ways that turn their speech difficult to understand by lay people. As it happens in courts or when one enters the specialized wording of social sciences. The opacity of these different uses of language – the uses of lies as political propaganda or justification for pressure the sacrifices of working people – is, today, one main topic of discussion, since extreme right politicians are using the claim of lack of transparency of democracies to successfully win elections and make even more authoritarian the state power.

Tracking the uses of the words using dictionaries is also useful, since one can locate the time of emergency of the word and the time of the strongest use of these words. For instance, social justice is used since the late 19th century and refers to the equilibrium of national societies. Globalization started by the 90´s of 20th century and today is not any more so much used as it was before. Human rights is the name used by 200 years old French Revolution and, more recently, after the 2nd World War, was framed as the name of a peaceful declaration of 1948, under United Nations and north-American initiative.

Under Human Rights Declaration several legal institutions all over the world has been developed as ways to avoid war conditions by inclusiveness of everyone, as people with right to live in dignity. Human rights is about natural law, that means those laws that are common sense to peaceful people and people found of convivence. Anyone should have the right to life determined by her/his own will. Even when states and dominant classes pressure the people against these common sense situation, as it happened during centuries, when farmers were expelled from land all over Europe or when working people, still today, have wages under the risk of poverty line. The existence of human rights claiming means that many people do not enjoy natural rights and one has to fight for it with one´s life at stake. Of course, this situation is not peaceful, as one can also see by the news. Even big wars are privileged of states, big money and black economy.

Social justice can be understood as a substitute of class struggle, as globalization can be understood as an alternative expression to unique imperial power. In its time, when self-organized communitarian societies of workers seems to represent a different way of living, better than hierarchical bourgeois society, class struggle meant one way workers have to stop exploitation and destroy the power of powerful, for the sake of their own good life. The opposition to this kind of arguing and doing claim for fairness and social justice as a way to stop class warfare. After the wars, the international social class struggle was doubled by the opposition of two super powers – USA and USSR – representing, respectively, the renewal of capitalism and the hope of a working class ruled society. In practice, two imperial big states faced each other, as Cold War, and one disappeared in 1989, leaving the whole planet to USA imperial process. Globalization is about the hope that – finally – under USA rule, united humanity will materialize and capitalism would be the last regime, the best social and economic regime conceivable. Today we know it better: the risk of collapse is evident since 2008 and the solutions for the problem are lacking. Anyway, the trill for the good faith of globalization (the mainstream globalization as well the alternative "other world is possible") is fading.

Fall  semestre 2017

November, the 22th

Women and children Human Rights

Preliminary considerations on the instruments of international law applicable in these matters, on the accessibility of these instruments, on the competition that exists among the various entities whose mission is to promote them. Click for some relevant links.

Debate on the remaining discrepancy between the pretensions of modern societies to recognize equality between all human beings and the fact that inequalities and abusive practices are practically maintained by taking advantage of these inequalities. Need to understand better how, in modern societies - but not only in these - norms of equality have been established; what are the factors that favor practices contrary to these norms; what are the factors that favor practices that correspond to these norms.

In the face of a particular form of denial of equality and equal respect for the dignity of all persons, sexual abuse of children, there is a recently developed strategy: Transformative Justice. It can be understood as a way of taking advantage of calls for redress of such ill-treatment, not for resorting to the official police and judicial apparatus, which reproduces forms of violence, but for the transformation of collectives, progressively eliminating factors favoring child abuse.

Brief comparative considerations on new concepts of justice that have arisen in recent years: restorative justice, transitional justice, now transformative justice; after general justice, commutative justice, distributive justice, and of course social justice. Concepts that reveal transformations of human collectivities both in terms of the positions of their various members and in the plane of the mechanisms of self-observation they develop: a philosopher who questions about justice in his society; a militant of the workers' movement who wonders about the position of his class and ways of making the State intervene; social scientists who observe collectivities and propose innovative ways of intervening in them.


November, the 15th

Demographics and migrations

It resumes the discussion of the texts covered last week
Robert I. Lerman and Stephanie R. Schmidt "An Overview of Economic, Social and Democratic Trends Affecting the U.S. Labor Market"

European Commission 2009, Regions 2020 globalisation challenges for european regions

Jonna, R. Jamil, Foster, John Bellamy (2016) Marx's Theory of Working-Class Precariousness Its Relevance Today

These, in some way, represent the three points of view that can be deduced from Habermas's text: the State (Commission text on the regions); the economy (Lerman / Schmidt); the society (Jonna / Foster).

Approach to the text of Aaron Benanav, "Demography and Dispossession", 2017. Importance of the demographic perspective, which takes into account the mere physical reproduction of the human race and allows to show the effects of this reproduction, independently of the effects of other economic and social processes. Comparison between the latter text (p.2) and Jonna / Foster's (note 43): the two are based on ILO reports: the World Employment Social Outlook 2015 (the last edition of this report here), which illustrates the importance of international organizations in building a global social reality.

Presentation of Dores, A.P, "Human Rights through national borders" Sociology Without Borders (4): 382-297, drawn from the observation on the ground of the reception of refugees on a Greek island. Considerations about the treatment by modern states of those who are not recognized as full citizens, who are the victims of violence that we tend, we who do not suffer, not to perceive, making them invisible.

November, the 8th

Law and global world

Brief presentation of the theory of communicative action: conditions needed for modern communication. On the one hand, there are the meanings in which we make sense / give meaning to what surrounds us and to what begins in the process of communication, within which we also identify ourselves as contributors and participants announcers (we become aware of ourselves when we are already communicating; Habermas call this areas of Lebenswelt / Lifeworld). On the other hand, there are domains (systems) in which individuals are suspended about symbols they cannot control (one cannot redefine the meaning and the uses of wording and the power of the symbols everybody use). The administration and the economy have legal powers granted, except in new legislative processes; The value of money is not discussed. What is at stake is to articulate these two radically different domains: Lifeworld and systems. This is one of the major problems societies are call to deal with. In a first step, Habermas approaches this problem, in several places in the Theory of the Communicative Action in the light of the "colonization of the Lebenswelt" thesis: the domination of the systems would extend progressively, while diminishing the opportunities one have to define by ourselves the sense experiences. This thesis has been illustrated by Habermas using his research on sociology of law. He notice the juridical regalement trend in each time more present in different social sectors, such as family, education. He call it "Juridification" (see text Trends toward Juridification, which is one of the last chapters of Theory of Communicative Action). In a second phase, one is interested in the way Lebenswelt "fences" the systems (in the book Facts and Norms [1992] 1996, available in the ISCTE-IUL library).

In a first part of "Tendencies toward Juridification," Habermas seeks to interpret the development of modern law as revealing the way in which the political-administrative system, the economic system, and a less structured, public-space debate have been differentiated throughout history; as well as private spaces where we can withdraw and organize our way as our relations with others; and as the dynamics of political and economic systems have an impact on less structured public and private spaces, which led to the adoption of measures to protect people (social policies). It seeks to analyze more precisely how protection measures apply to new forms of state and economic intrusion in private spheres, to introduce a distinction between law-institution (legal rules enshrining fundamental principles that may favor a communicational activity that generates new meanings) and law (legal rules that frame the functioning of organizations that may interfere with this communicational activity).

O Estado moderno surge tirando proveito destes ofícios e enquadrando o exercício destes. O que pode acarretar limitações na actuação das pessoas, mas o que também, em certas circunstâncias, pode abrir espaços de actuação.

Following this presentation, debate about the conditions in which we communicate at the present time. – the technological facilities to communicate at a distance, and the fact that not everything enter the distant communication. Think of the substance that can be the silence. - What it means more precisely to communicate and about a possibility of communicating with the nonhuman world. - On the differentiation of forms of communication through history. Namely a differentiation of forms of communication lived as enabling a learning (any communication can be source of learning). Possible connection between these forms of communication and crafts that develop in particular in the Renaissance (think of art). The modern state comes by taking advantage of the offices and framing the exercise of these. What can lead to limits in the performance of people, but also, under certain circumstances, can open spaces for action.

Brief commentary on the three texts scheduled for discussion this week: (1) how States react to globalization? (2) How do regions develop in the context of global dynamics? (3) Stable employment and precariousness in a globalized economy.

Octobre, the 25th

History and tales about Nation-state

Nation-state was invented in the West. It is a specific form of state, different from other kind of state. It has been imposed and copied all over the world.
Nation-state, in the globalization era, is presented as decaying in power. Ideally, corporations, capital and assets are free to move out of the intervention (and taxing) of the states. Peoples moves, in contrast, are hardly policed and turned out to become central political problem (immigrants, refugees).
German and English newspapers of this week published articles arguing about IMF reports asking for social support to people, instead of austerity policies. From the right and from the left, arguing about industrial innovation or about strengthening workers power, several articles call to support this new view about politics. We are living a turn on politics. Is this the end of neoliberal era?
Modern state find its roots in the Companies of India of several European kings. They needed them to strategic management of Discoveries: to do business overseas, to plan military force interventions and to take taxes. American and French Revolution, ending the royalty leadership, found in the People, built afterwards as nation, another way of legitimizing state power. Messianic and Imperial notion, turn into the people living inside political borders to represent the solidarity of all (between them and with the state) as an old tradition, brought by national 19th century historiography. Till today, racist politics still work. This was the strength of the social ground where this state identity work stand. Work done against several nations existing inside borders, both in Europe and in other parts of the world.
Jurisdification Habermas´ thesis notice the growing intervention of judicial principles and processes in the sphere of experience. Sphere of experience is where people are free to consensually build their specific kind of relationships. Judicial systems are spreading its influence. From this point of view, Habermas describe four stages for the western style state: the private and contractual state of kings involved in Discoveries. State of law, when it assured inside its political borders the life, the property and freedom of its use. Democratic state of law, when not only the those who have property would be able to benefit from the security of the state. Every citizen would be entitled to be supported by the state on their lives. Last state, se social state deliver a special attention to labour relationship, recognizing that salaried people is not in the same position as entrepreneurs and so state should find ways to equilibrate this difference of power.
There is other ways to divide this stages of evolution of the state. One can conclude that there time where the state was not present, in History. There are several politic orientations that run the state in different situations. New stages build in the ancient ones, becoming more complex. The will to get a minimum state converge the new left and the neoliberals this last decades. Still the state seems to grow and its power seems to vanish, when facing corporations or banks.

Octobre, the 18th

What is globalization?

Globalization is an expression that has start circulating since the 80's and especially 90's of the last century. Although one can say that the tendency towards globalization is an innate characteristic in the human species, since leaving Africa it has done nothing more than colonize the world. Europe in particular began to colonize the world from the 14th century on. International maritime trade (as opposed to the silk route and all the commercial land routes, as well as the struggles between the knights of the Euro-Asian steppe and the sedentary societies) follows the first steps of what in the nineteenth century came to be call colonization. Capitalism, as a system, arises in the midst of these events, in England; and expands with them.
There are two ideological views on this: Anglo-Saxon and Francophone. Globalization (English-speaking) is a pragmatic process that does not depend on the will of anybody: it is a force of nature, unstoppable and above all unregulated. Mondialization (French) is a cultural process of realizing the best that universal values can offer to humanity, which means respect for legal and humanitarian rules.
There is, in fact, a more superficial globalization (communication networks via TV, the internet, transport network, international tourism and work networks, the trading of standardized products available around the world - macdonaldization - etc.) which explains how Bin Landen also consumed Western products, such as the watch he wore on his wrist when he made his presentation to the world after the attack on the Twin Towers as a leader of anti-modern and anti-Western movements. (In fact, without the free movement of capital and private warfare - completely banned before the 1980s - there would be no possibility of organizing Al Quaeda).
There is, at the same time, a deeper globalization. Like the one that is reflected in the fires in Portugal. The result of accelerated modernization policies from the entry into the European Union, when a third of the population left the rural world and became urban, abruptly abandoning the interior of the country to a human desertification that anticipated for decades the announced climate desertification, resulting from climate change. The practical consequences of extreme weather events that have occurred are more serious because the populations and the state are not prepared.
The interests that are measured by GDP, by the value produced each year, are mainly those that are linked to international trade: speculative value, specialization, exploitation and extraction of natural resources and labor force, they all allow the accumulation of great wealth but leave a trace of disorganization, disorientation, poverty, lack of solidarity and burnt land. A class of international people with access to the most sophisticated technologies lives in a way that is oblivious to other people, especially those who are trapped in the local territories on which they depend and where they organize life. States, turned to support and benefit, through taxes and through the opportunities to rise in life offered to their highest officials (especially politicians), develop social policies that do not dignify people in need: on the contrary, they humiliate and incapacitate.
The open paths to overcome these contradictions, between ideal and reality, are the return to the past of the national state for the benefit of nationals, proposed by the far right, and a series of practical utopias advanced by local businessmen and civil society movements, including community projects, dispersed among themselves. The functional and cognitive hyper specialization, as well as the dualization that split those people that can use modern technologies and the others, is an obstacle to cooperation around a narrative of the future that is mobilizing.

Octobre, the 11th

Human Rights - theories

The need for a human rights theory, raised by Amartya Sem, goes on to explain how these rights are acquired by the people and in what context they are enjoyed. Some say that rights are inseparable from obligations and duties, without which rights do not exist. That is to say, who benefits from the rights is because it has the conditions to maintain them, that is, to fulfill obligations.
This is the theory still valid today in professional fields. One must be "competent" to exercise it as a right, far from those who are "incompetent". But it is also valid in economic and social aspects: some claim to be realistic to make economic and social rights dependent, says Sen, on the scarcity of each society. If a country is poor, economic and social rights (to be provided by the state) will have to be adequate to the states' achievement possibilities. The author claims that this is not true: economic and social rights are moral and social obligations. People and societies have obligations to provide services, directly or by the state or by professionals.
Human rights are, in the sense of Sen, the recognition of the right of all citizens to organize and participate in the transformation of the world for the benefit of all, without being harmed in their personal life, without persecution or discrimination or retaliation. In particular, by directly supporting those in need and calling on the state and other institutions - such as businesses or families - to respect first and second generations rights (political and civic participation, first generation human rights, access to goods economic and cultural rights in the second generation).
For Sen, human rigths is a social and moral way of developing freedoms in any part of the world, regardless of the relative wealth of countries and sectors of activity. Everywhere one must maximize individual and collective capacities.
Human rights movements are based on imperfect (facultative) and perfect moral determinations (obligations under penalty of moral penalty for abstention). Anyone who can, should help feed homeless or defend the rights of prisoners. It is an imperfect moral determination. Anyone who witnesses a car accident or a person at risk of drowning in a river or at sea, has a strict obligation to seek to rescue those in imminent danger. It is an perfect moral determination.
Human rights also refer to practices of agitation and acknowledgment of the humanity of others and unknown persons, including observing and publicizing practices of abuses of power (of the state and other persons with powers), following imperfect moral determinations. Practices of public support, evaluation and discussion of people in situations of non-freedom. Where torture and disease and access to health care are priorities. The need for professional criticism of the professional practices of caregivers (teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers, sociologists) including parents and spouses or other family members (eg, boy/girlfriends) can be added to Sen's point of view. The abuse of children, women, conjugal and gender-based violence, the destruction of lives at their emotional level, is a pandemic that is now recognized and where more determined actions are lacking. Situations where the state - the police and social services - is too conditioned to be
The fact that, realistically, economically or institutionally, from the state's point of view, it is not possible, in a certain situation, to deliver rights - for example, to end poverty or torture - does not inhibit the moral right and obligation to claim (organizational reforms or institutional transformations) to achieve determined objectives as desirable.
The universality of these rights means that they should not be restricted either to certain social groups or to political boundaries.
The discussion of torture, for example, goes beyond the secrets of state and the social secrets surrounding the penal systems. Retaliation is a magical social practice that still works today. Especially through denial. And through the distinction between mistreatment, degrading treatment and torture. A gradation of torture that makes allegations of torture on the one hand broader and on the other hand more controversial: ill-treatment is also torture and, at the same time, ill-treatment is not torture. The ill-treatment is less serious, the torture unacceptable. If a state turns real torture into alleged mistreatment, one can see, as it happened in Portugal, representatives of the State directly responsible for the prisons say that there is no torture in the country.


September. the 27th 

Human Rights regime

Before listening to the individual motivations of those present to attend the course, the teacher explained the way of functioning of the two sites of the course - the website of the summaries and the readings; the NING website, used as blogs site, to post and to comment. The quantification of the final evaluation was presented, as well.

In the second part of the lesson the notion of human rights regime was presented as a postwar movement that involved moral, political and institutional issues. This movement is interpreted in the light of American imperial logic, which characterizes the same historical period, in the light of the influence of good ideas and imagination of what justice in real life is, in the light of institutional constructivism. The human rights movement uses a number of legal instruments, such as manifestoes and declarations, with no legal value, but with symbolic and cultural value; conventions oblige signatory states to incorporate international law in their national legislation; recommendations frame international evaluation of good legislation.

The practical value of the law, and in particular of human rights law, is often contested as it is disregarded by states. In fact, human rights law aims to provide individual with the means to appeal to the courts in defense of their interests and rights violated by states. The law and the courts, of course, are not enough to prevent abuses of power. They can stand for damning judgments and demand that cases of abuse not be repeated. They do so by shaming the states that are condemned, presenting them to the international community as violators of law and morality. Its effects are not abolitionists of state abuses. They are, in any case, an instrument of defense (of people) and of attack (of non-compliant states) that has borne fruit, to be evaluated on another occasion.


About existing international legal instruments aiming at the promotion of human rights, see the commented list published on the website “Sociology of Law at ISCTE-IUL”. Important distinction: between binding and non binding instruments (frequently used terminology: hard law / soft law). Both have to be adopted by a formal decision of an international organization. On top of this, binding instruments – usually called “conventions” – have to be ratified by the member states of these organizations, through domestic procedures comparable to legislative procedures. Such binding documents may supply legal foundations to procedures against the states that ratified the conventions. Non binding documents – declarations, recommendations – cannot be invoked as such; however, references to them may help the construction of legal arguments.  

Admittedly, legal documents have a considerable symbolic impact, even if they are poorly or not at all implemented in practice. Such a symbolic impact is to be observed in the domain of corporate social responsibility. Organizations grouping private corporations, in order to improve the social image of their members, encourage them to take into consideration human rights in their relations with clients and employees, while human rights, in legal terms, only apply to the states in their relations with the people.

Fall semestre 2014


Septembre, 22th

Course activities

List of topics

Assignment schedule

Example of good student´s final work


Fall semestre 2013

Course evaluation

18 Dec

Assessment and closure

11 Dec

Social-economic rights, cultural rights, workers and nature rights

A presentation of the four generation of Human Rights. A brief discussion of the path and activity of each one.

Civic and political rights did help to integrate women and young people in the voting population. Prisoners and immigrants still are excluded in many cases. Socioeconomic rights in the Welfare State are backward these days, as well being reformulated. Emergent cultural rights work through minority language education, the official use of these languages, public recognition of the cognitive value of minorities´ cultures, creations’ and traditions. Nature rights is only declarative, at the moment: it meant to address diversity both in human cultures as in human habitat and ecological sites.

About Nature rights, one should look at the political rising of first people in Bolivia and Equator and their commitment to record their ancestral views on nature and a constitutional national and world heritage available through the resistance to colonialism of these people.

For a comprehensive understanding, Human Rights should be referred as an all. The resistances to the enforcement of Human Rights declarations claim for new and specific developments and clarifications of what they intend and mean, in all complexity and extension. This is different from specialization approach, splitting in parts what can be apart, turning thoughts and actions simpler and, as well, losing perspective of the sense and results of the actions – we call it alienation.

A group work has been presented and discussed. It dealt with recycling food and helping Lisbon needy families.

4 Dec

Human Rights of women and children

Human Rights are an institution. Historically it starts with the idea of all people are equal, as a natural right. The US Constitution and the French declaration of “Droit de l´Homme”  by the citizens of the French Revolution give them modern form. After the World Wars, UN supported, as a global institution, the Universal Human Rights Declaration that started the recent story of Human Rights. It needs a code built on top of the brutality of the imperial wars, the industrialization of warfare, atomic terror, suicidal aggressive politics in Europe in the beginning of the 20th century. It joined UN Security Council as a not as much important pace making institution.

The first lady, wife of the US President, leaded the diplomatic break trough, in1946, when UN General Assembly approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It his till today the normative support for the Human Rights Commission and the legal jurisprudence in different international and national courts, in Europe and Latin America. European Council imposes to every member States to comply with all Human Rights international treaties, and to their jurisprudential interpretation developed by Human Rights European Court, as well from UN Human Rights Commission.

Institution refers to a formal statement of a principle or set of principles that apply in a certain territory and the populations inside it. One should avoid the confusion between institution (a desired principle) and the institutional organization (organization that should aim to enforce the institution for everybody and fails some times, or even many times).

A norm is a statement and generally does not conform to reality. It means the reverse: it means it would be right society and people to conform to the declared principles. It only be possible if society and people find the pathways to avoid obstacles and oppositions to welfare. Norms can help eventually to fight for a better society and a better life. (For instance: capital penalty still remain working and some States protect the death of humans by the State in a cold mood, in order to support a certain political order. Human Rights legislation complies with these kinds of procedures because it feels no able to oppose them as a matter of political principle).      

Many times the recover from an offense is not possible, even when the court and the state try it. Even so, the simple recognition of the legal right of one victim of shearing the human condition available to all other humans has a living effect on people and moralize society.

Court justice work for confirmation (or not) of the injustice made and its main immediate causes. Under an intellectual discipline that translates single empirical facts in terms of violations of stated abstract and universal norms. Law is the discipline that studies norms, their practical applications, now a day and in the past, what, at present, in the past and what presumably would be in the near future, is the use of understanding of the norms, legal procedures, ways of driving the judicial procedures at the proper organizations, ways of support each one´s interest in court as well outside the court.

Modern laws apply to everybody. Even not everybody is treated the same way by the courts and all proceedings around it, regardless the good will of the judiciary personnel. Economic and finance limits the accessibility to legal bargaining. Social and cognitive capital is, as well, able to differentiate people entering the courts. The virtual world claims universality of the law.  The practical world has a lot of obstacles to deliver such a result.  

The reified idea of the law – and human rights law as well – as an automatic protection for the people that works directly in the real world without material and bloody mediation does not conform with experience. The law is only a fighting instrument available to help people to join, to gather, to call attention, to mobilize, to claim for help from the State, to call for allies. The law follows the social fights, can be used to turn the fights in conflict for a while and avoid violence. If it takes too long, it could support a violent reaction against the obstacles to justice. As well the case can be brought high in the international courts. Using their judgment to built in their prestige.

The 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, built on sequence, result of the formal recognition of the practical exclusion of these two groups of people from fully benefice of general Human Rights Declaration, too close to the previous idea of Men Rights. They also are the result of the struggles of feminist movements to become noticed and recognized at the legal level.

6 Nov

Human Rights - introduction

Nov. 6 -   Project design complete by the group -- at this point, everything should be prepared for realizing the project, i.e., the  overall structure will be drafted, literature (al least preliminary)   will be found, locations and concrete partners will be identified,   etc. This marks the start of the fieldwork or research by students, if not already so.

 Nov 13- Intermediate report on the project

The International Labour Organization ILO was been established at the end of the First World War. Social justice at work has been envisaged as a peace previous condition. It works as a tripartite organization instead of a intergovernmental instance as are mostly other international bodies. Every member State is represented by their government, their workers unions and entrepreneur associations. ILO main activity is to produce international conventions in labor market maters, its development in the international arena in order to become accepted and ratified by member States and monitoring its enforcement. ILO mission is defined, now a day, by four documents linked to four important moments of the raising of this institution: its Constitution, from 1919; Philadelphia Declaration, from 1944, stressing the relevance of individual dignity and freedom as legal rights; the Declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work, from 1998 (answering the situation built by World Trade Organization, from 1995) that convey member  States to compromise with these rights, regardless what other conventions they may ratify; the declaration on Social justice towards a just globalization, from 2008.

To expand its action to labor subjects more informal e less organized is one ILO priority, these days. The adoption of a convention on domestic work, at the 100th ILO Conference 2012, is an example. This adoption has consequences in the momentum explored by several NGO and research centers that join efforts to lobby for national ratification of this convention at national level.  

Looking at ILO activities one can understand the distance between the international law, developing a dense net of norms and the respective elaborated control procedures on the field, regarded by several and heterogeneous groups of people concerned, and the State and corporation practices ignoring the law or using it by non authorized reinterpretation regarding economic benefits, exploitation e human trafficking.

Related to the growing concerns with human trafficking, the enforcement means mobilized sometimes open space for arbitrary behavior of agents of the State, including open to inadequate control and repression of citizens in general.

One good reference to think domestic work is Nancy Fraser / Axel Honneth, Redistribution and Recognition, Londres, Verso, 2003.

The Axel Honneth theory has two paths. A theory of society at A luta pela reconhecimento (1992). Following Hegel, Honneth claim three spheres where recognition manifests: love; law; solidarity. A political philosophy: O direito da liberdade. He build on the consensus about freedom to ask: what is freedom? How can it be enforced? He proposes three dimensions about freedom: no constrains; to act respecting each one will; ability to coordinate social actions with partners. The two previous dimensions refer to possibilities of acting free, the last dimension refers to the ability of acting.

The freedom we live now a day is built trough struggles that concerns three systems of action: the intimacy; the economic activities; the will formation by democratic methods. One of the main problems these days is the fact that the build of social will are produced out of national public debate and so the confrontation of individual and societal desires has no way to develop and progress. That is why Honneth propose the build of new supra nationals public spaces where to experience social freedom.

30 Oct

Vulnerabilities, Discriminations, Invisibility

States build a territorial interior and a territorial exterior as well as a different kind of knowledge of what is in and out of the State territory, produced by mass media as well by social sciences. For instance, the long distance migration fluxes traverse different state territories and become invisible in its roots and social density. This invisibility turns unthinkable the reasons and emotions that produces suicidal terrorists between young people with modern lives and socially integrated in western countries.

Juridical problems bring the ignorance about long distance migrant fluxes still more profound, since immigrant policy is build in order to avoid immigrant´s voice. And what about social science responsibilities in giving voice to people that lacks freedom of speech?

With the common structural-functionalist dimensions it is hard to discover these people, because sociology focuses on integration or event in assimilation. Giddens in 1985 proposed to renew social dimensions and adapt them to advanced capitalism. And to look out of the state political borders. With no consequences for the social theory. Most sociological work still considers state controversies as the centre of political problems and obscure global problems and humanitarian problems as real problems. As  Göran Therborn states, social theory focus in studying resources and avoid to discuss vitality and existential dimensions of social lives.  

23 Oct

Nation-States, Social States ‑ Borders, Migrations

 Michael Novak´s paper “Defining Social Justice” has been subject of criticism from Guibentif. He noticed that Hayek individual virtue is not the main social justice principle to every thinker concerned with this topic. The long run, discussed, collective build of social justice institutions and the correlative state and private organizations is other way, eventually more spread, to understand social justice as a social modern phenomena.

The presence of this paper in our syllabus can reflect the different main ideological presumptions in the two borders of the Atlantic Ocean. The Tea Party centrality in the States as well as the irrational trend against scientific way of consider good knowledge is not comparable to any social phenomena in Europe.

The groups should be aware of that whenever receiving information and thoughts from the North American Colleagues.

The group of students that presented their work was concerned with helping the organizations that supports Syrian refuges from the civil war and the way European authorities organize the repression against migrants trying to enter Europe. These and other matters have been discussed with the group in order to develop further their working program.

16 Oct

Global governance and social justice 

People, nations, societies mean different things in different epochs. People opposes aristocracy as much as civil society opposes dominant class or military, according to the times. Knowledge focuses on few groups of relevant people. Their dialogue or struggle decides the destiny of the all societies. Much social reality stays out of focus and unknown. Now a day, people benefits from the prestige of the use of the word made by North American and French Revolutions as new and modern sovereign.

People mean enthusiasm, will, violence if needed to enforce its will, as well as delusion; consequence of the confrontation of values, principles, desires, promises and the real history of people and state and civic institutions.  Social theory celebrates modern victories as well as inventor obstacles and defeats. Peace, for instance, stays not warranty and progress seems each time again frustrated in many ways, and crises still coming.

Human Rights means to discredit in the future to solve present problems and claim to deliver to everybody the dignity of being humans to decide for each one’s own lives. State do promise, ratifying the different declaration and conventions on human rights, to conform to principles and soft juridical norms that measures the respect of individual human´s rights. This commitment becomes a base for international trust and prestige at international level for dominant class in each part of the world, depending of the mood of the respect that reigns in societies and at the State level regarding Human Rights principals, institutions and the way human rights organizations are respected.    

2 Oct

Those groups who want to develop international networking between universities were informed that this week is the dead line to present their claim of interest, supported by a English written document the start of the bargaining on the work of the international group. The bargaining will be conducted with the participation of the teachers from both universities involved in each group.

The rest of the time the class discussed the notion of globalization and the need and possibilities to turn it in a consensual concept.

Globalization attracts opinions, starting in being a good thing and ending with the assessment of being a bad thing. Most opinions, have been said, are not sharp and straight. Nuances recommend imagining a continuum of opinions between these two hard opinions.

There several ways of able us to avoid being stucked in an opinion dispute. Developing a historic perspective on the usage of the word; identifying social entities protagonists of the disputes on globalization conceptualization; looking for causes that explain the historical emergence of the globalization situation.

From a historical point of view, globalization emerges as a fashionable name on the 90´s: after the USRR implosion and the winning of US as the unique superpower on Earth; after the settlement of World Trade Organization (1994). Those who oppose north-American imperialism become negative whenever the subject arises.  In 2000 Davos Economic World Forum reunite every year some of the main interests on globalization. The same year, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Social World Fórum reunite all kinds of social movements that oppose “this” globalization, merging those who are against (anti-globalization movements) and those who wants new governance of globalization (alter-globalization movements).

Global governance is an idea introduced by Kant, near the beginning of 19th century and started as the pacifist League of Nation, at the end of the some century.  These movements did not avoid the two world wars at the first half of the 20th century. UN emerges under the support of USA, sited in NY, as a moral claim against war and for human rights at the end of the Second World War. Inspiring the building of European friendship between France and Germany, including as well other countries affected by the war and supported by Marshall Investment Plan that transform Europe the same way New Deal (between the USA federation sate and General Motors) transforms north-America.

The present shape of several institutions – with their own history behind – under neo-liberal rule has not emerge in the 90´s. Word Bank, MIF and other world development institutions used by mainstream global governance as main tools started working, for different proposes, earlier; they evolved in order to push ideological agendas through the world. They influence other global governance institutions, as in the health and agriculture fields. They influence little other global governance institutions that oppose this trend, such as those in culture, human rights and equal opportunities fields.

Globalization is caused by long run trends, such as some coming from Western Discoveries started 500 years ago, from French Revolution spirit, from capitalism started by Industrial Revolution, from the idea of a united human kind from two thousand year religious notion of brotherhood and 200 years old idea of diplomatic work to avoid war. New materials,  transportation, and information and communication technologies – such as computers, internet, the web of intra banks business, the globalized stock market, easy and cheap plan traveling and the securitarian restrictions to migrations – draw, by the end of the 20th century, new possibilities, conflicts and violence.

After 80´s neo-liberal policies, global governance introduced, besides diplomatic talks in UN, the gathering of NGO´s in order to push public global agenda to address specific global issues, such as climate change, poverty, hunger, AIDS, sustainable development, women emancipation, etc.

For concept building proposes it was noticed the difference between holist (durkheimian) perspectives – that stress the huge and untenable presence of globalization process, as a thing, indifferent to opinions and institutions – and dimensional perspective (weberian) – that stress the sector dynamics, mainly in finance and politics, to show their differences and unbalance as main causes of the social stress we live in. It has been suggested that both perspectives can be useful if properly used: the first one in revolutionary situations, when normal social dimensions blur over each other, becoming one, as when the people arises and claim its sovereignty.  The second one useful in normalized times, such as those lived in Portugal  between December 1975 and 12th March 2011, with the first multitudinary demonstration that shows the change from normality to a “normal abnormality” on the mind of institutions and people in the country, parallel to foreigner intervention in the govern of the national institutions.

25 Sep

In the class students were instigated to present their intend Lisbon groups/themes in order to organize a casa by case short discussion about how to run the work for the final project each group has to present at the end of the semester. It has been stressed the need of choosing a NGO or alike in order to able the group, the international partners and the teachers to discuss over concrete ground.

Amilcar´s case shows a very structured activism over deaf community and a much defined interest on gestural languages and problems over translation procedures.  During the week one confirm the registration of disability as a new field of possible interest for groups and we receive the information that this year one can count on partners in Milan, UK, Miami, L.A. and other north-American city.

As Amilcar is so determined and informed on his chosen theme, it results not so easy to find out Lisbon and international partners, since there is no much room for negotiation. In cases like that one should face the possibility of working in the class alone, out of the groups arrangements. This do not mean it is impossible any international cooperation. But this cooperation will perform out of mainstream work, for instance, by person to person email messages change.

Alexandre´s example of send an email message to the teachers in the middle of the week is a good example how one can run the work, because it allows a reflection and an answer from the teachers, and the message can be shared as well with the other students – using the special webpage  created this week for this propose.

This message gives the opportunity to argue that, for the moment, the more urgent need is to find out a empirical anchor where to attach a discussion over the group formation and the way the chosen theme can be address. Each group need to find a website, some activist activity, some activist, some proposals of future activities through what one can discuss in class and with the potential international partners; about thinking how can our scholar work be useful to innovate or depth the work already done in the empirical ground we choose to work in.

A previous knowledge of one reference social organization working on the ground of social justice and human rights would represent for us a base for future discussion over the pratical orientation of the international (comparative) work.

The class session pressured students to rush on the decision making about 2 persons group-one theme-anchor NGO in order to be able to start thinking in depth and in concrete cases. The teachers hope next week to get this goal done.

Students were informed were to find examples of end projects as it is needed to present for evaluation proposes.

18 Sep

The presence of a deaf student as an activist to open universities to accept their participation on regular classes shows who far we are from integrative practices. And how the effort of someone deaf (being able to work with Portuguese, English and French languages plus their gestural languages contra parts) is huge, both personally and socially for the translator.

One can think that globalization (of information and knowledge by the internet) shows, in its brighter side, the before hidden inequalities. There is a new lesson one can follow during this course, with the help of Amilcar.

This first class confront students with the need of adapt different time schedules in order to reach the opportunity to work together with students elsewhere in the world. A 14 double class weeks´ syllabus for 1rst grade study cycle would be joined by a 10 single class weeks of 2nd grade study cycle. A intensive reading cycle would be joined by a intense participation of Lisbon groups.

As tools we have the site of Lisbon class, the central NING site, an international schedule and a national schedule. The latter is divided in two: a) more theoretical one in order to develop a program with international groups, under one of the themes available this year; b) a second part to get to the final pedagogical goals done with some field work. The month of November is open schedule to this taks.   

The main tasks of the students would be:

1. Groups/subjects organization

2. Ning blog participation

3. Final project presentation, till 10 January 2014.

Next class it is hoped to get done the first task. It would bring us the opportunity to begin with connection work with other universities and groups.

In this class we read two of the NING blog texts and commented them:  

Alexandre Vaz: Globalization is not only a political and economic issue; it has cultural aspects too; it also has epistemological implications.

Filipe Gonçalves: One of the most severe impact globalization are the increasing inequalities.

Tobias Link: To deal with the problems of the world, “strong governance” is not enough; it is also a matter of values, as well as of the citizens’ empowerment.

Pedro Lago: There is not just one globalization, but many of them; and many points of view on all of them.

Helena Mateus: One of the main impacts of globalization is that it favours corruption. A serious problem is: how to assess positive and negative impacts?

Cheila Cardoso: It would be worth trying to analyse the relationship between globalization and the current economic crisis. Points of view on globalization may vary a lot, notably between different generations.

Clémentine Ronseaux: The idea of a global government is not new and did not yield significant results. It would be worth better to take into consideration local initiatives.

Amílcar José Morais: Concerned with the impact on the deaf community. Some examples: the development of communication technologies had a mainly positive impact; attempts to question the relevance of sign languages had a negative impact; medical progress raises serious bio-ethical issues.

A brief discussion compared the value of stressing the differences between economic and political systems and processes and the holistic view of both being part of the some oppressive system and process. To support the first epistemic option one can show its relevance to understand the present crises: the 2007 crises were financial and the 2010 public debt crises were political. To support the second option one can say that the oppressive systems denounced by social movements are political-economical-financial global alliances that benefit 1% and not the 99%, including the people out of Europe and USA.

The class ended by exemplifying the choices of themes and groups by the students.

Fall semester 2012

attach: Social Dinamics


Class of Setember 26th 2012

(lecture by APD)resume program and evaluation .

Brief presentation of a sociological critic of violence and of its limits. These two are reveling features of the social conditions of development of social theory in our times.


attach: Sociology of violence;


Class of Setember 19th 2012

(jointly lectured by APD/PG) Presentation of the dedicated site of the class. Presentation of the NING site of the global class. Presentation of an overview of the work semester and its goals. Presentation of two working fields to address (CAIS association and Fábrica Braço de Prata cultural centre and museum). Each student present was invited to chose do connect one of these two working fields and the arrangements for first contacts as been made.

Guidelines to the students with a view to their individual work (one “post” a week per student, every week; 9 “posts” over the semester; in English and in Portuguese), and to the team work (service project). Introduction to the teaching program: social justice (4 classes delivered by PG); human rights (4 classes delivered by APD); globalization (2 classes delivered in common, APD/PG).


Spring semester 2012

Human Rights at different social levels - Class Prezi presentation (APD)

Class of May 17th 2012

(lectured by APD)

Law and Social Theory

The law operates at an abstract level of social reality. It works at normative dimension. It reflects the proactive desire and imagination, both physical and virtual. The practical constraints never let one deliver what one imagine to be our plain satisfaction and ideal utopia. Frustration cannot be avoid. Prudence as social experience - developed by dominant or marginal people - equally shows that changes do not depend on someone will. Even when one claim his/her action to be the main cause of a due course of action.

To say that the Republic overthrown the Ancient Regime, meaning that the bourgeoisie substitute the aristocracy and the head of society and State, hide the mutual interest alliance between the people who experience these two kinds of  life experience in order to dominate the rest of us. Practical choice that let the aristocracy in charge of ruling the judicial pillar of modern States. The hidden  perspective, once showed, can be useful to think the contemporary decadence of the judicial power in Western countries. It is a new aspect of class struggle, different from employees and employers, workers and bosses.

Human Rights are for these struggle a motive and an instrument. For instance, when the courts used the globalization process to expand their power, till Pinochet was putted in jail. These globalization perspective of judicial systems development did come back and the human wrigth respect as well.

Frankfurt Social Sciences School´s Honneth focus on respect and dignity as the new Social Science concern centre of interest of this school, in order to back up old public space communication strategy.




Class of April 26th 2012

(lectured by APD)

Globalization and Human Rights

The history of Human Rights is told as part of modern history, from the French Revolution till the 20th century Universal Declaration at UN, from colonialism times till the times of threatening of Human Rights principles by the Western countries that usually were the champions of Human Rights.

The history of Human Rights is also the history of clarification of applying proposes to everybody, and not only to the people that deserve it. That is why it was felt as needed to complete the Universal Declaration with specific documents concerning women and children rights, migrant workers and their families, indigenous people and other kinds of stigmatized people.

The ideal of society become more sensitive to equity through recognition of Human Rights reveal itself as a long term struggle for justice, for social justice, in a special and more abstract way. One should consider the way it can be effective.


Class of April 19th 2012

(lectured by APD)

Human Rights in different social levels

In order to understand different ways of understanding human rights one can choose to look at human rights from 3 different social levels. Bottom level, linking with the biological levels of existence, the level in between – in fact several social levels related to constructed institutions and communities merging each other – and the upper level, related to collective values and intelligence.

The 3 lessons about Human Rights will organize a discussion about each one of these three different kinds of social levels. Human Rights and Social Justice at the bottom, Human Rights and Globalization at the level in between and Law and Human Rights at the upper level.

Social Justice refers to a state of affairs, a feeling, a territory and its people, to the efficacy of a specific social contract, development model and institutional structure to develop happiness to the people.

Human Rights refers to the expectations of one day Humanity can be fulfilled by the natural concern of every good faith person: each person would have access to the critical resources to satisfy the basic needs of a modern person. 


Class of March 15th 2012

(lectured by PG)

Developments of the definition discussed last week. II - Empirical implementation: the definition offers guidelines for the field work. One can (a) the interested people; (b) actors defending them, or defending other positions in the debates on issues of justice. (c) Head or staff of agencies in charge of measures aiming at protecting the rights of the interested people. These different categories of people can be questioned on their conceptions of social justice, in positive terms, or else, in negative terms, on their experiences of negations of social justice. This can be done according to the following grid: relevant social grouping; product of the activity of this grouping, to be distributed; vulnerable social categories, possibility of political procedures leading to decisions on questions of distribution. These items can be observed in their positive version, or in the negative version of  experiences of injustice. Main research question: are the representations observed likely to be qualified as expectations of social justice in the precise sense of the phrase, or do other notions of justice prevail? How could those other notions be named?  - These conceptions are not stable, they evolve in time, in particular under the impact of public debates where meet each other. For this reason, special attention should be placed on the words used, also in different languages.  III - Social Justice and globalization. preliminary section: social justice and internationalization. The notion of social justice develops out of international comparison: comparison between nations, between their productivity, between their social structure, between their political structure. This kind of comparison has been institutionalized by the International Labour Organization. Currently the ILO focused part of its activities - se its missions - on globalization and its relationship to social justice. On this point see the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization.


Class of March 8th 2012

(lectured by PG) Social Justice:  I - Definition of the concept: A - The concept of justice in general: a modest concept will be used, based on the negation of justice. What is unjust is what hurts our expectations toward our group. This definition leads us to admit a plurality of notions of justice, according to the type of group. What has been called universal justice meets the feeling of injustice of people victim of a prohibited behaviour, within a community where someone - a chief, a king - has the means to punish the person who had this behaviour. Commutative and distributive justice are likely to be distinguished in a social world where a public sphere - where exchanges of equal items take place - is differentiated from the private sphere - where everyone receives what he deserves according to his needs or position (see a short paper of the lecturer on this topic). B - The concept of "Social Justice": the call for social justice appears during the 19th century and corresponds to a specific kind of human grouping: modern national societies. Features of such groupings: clear differentiation thanks to the criteria of nationality; produces collectively more than solely what is required for survival; divided in different social categories, created by the process of production, categories having unequal access to the products; societies supposed to govern themselves by democratic institutions. "Social Justice" claimed for in such societies is "social" according to these different meanings: (1) it refers to a "national society"; (2) aims at a distribution of the product of this society's production; (3) concerns social categories; (4) should be the result of decisions of the society itself, taken within the framework of political procedures. - II - Some implications of this concept:  A - General assessment: does not necessarily lead to collectivism, contrarily to the argument of some critics of this notion, but to processes of confrontation of rights, of seeking technical - legal, organizational, economic - arrangements recognizing e reconciling these conflicting rights. Such processes led to the development of modern systems of social protection. B - Unavoidable Ambivalence: (a) the development of an organizational device and of the corresponding financial flows give rise to an administrative entities which evolution and impact on the society might prove difficult to control.  (b) The codification of interests in the format of "rights" has a significant impact on the perceptions people have of their social situation. C - Implications for the field research on concrete domains: one should survey (a) the perceptions the interested people have of their situations and rights; (b) the practice of entities in charge with measures warranting these rights; (c) the strategies of groups that may have been created in order to defend the rights of these people.


Class of February 16th 2012

(jointly lectured by APD/PG) Survey of the blogs created by the students, and of their prospects in terms of final assignment. Guidelines to the students with a view to their individual work (one “post” a week per student, every week; 14 “posts” over the semester; in principle in English and Portuguese), and to the team work (service project, possibly connected to initiatives of existing actors or social movements). Introduction to the teaching program: social justice (3 classes delivered by PG); human rights (3 classes delivered by APD); globalization (2 classes delivered in common, APD/PG).



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