Barry′s pugnacious defence of a robust social democracy deserves to find a wide readership ... for disillusioned social democrats, Why Social Justice Matters stands as a refreshingly staunch and intelligent manifesto.
Barry′s writing is extremely engaging. His arguments are supported by a wide range of examples and illustrations and an impressive breadth of scholarship.
Ethics and Social Welfare
This book is a powerful argument against the utter inequity of the current political and economic system in the UK and against the way in which a discourse of equal opportunities is used to maintain what Barry describes as the machinery of injustice . In this extraordinarily simple and lucid book, Barry weaves striking threads of supporting evidence, anecdotes, quotations and statistics together to encourage us to insist that another (just) world is not only possible but that an unjust world cannot endure.
British Journal of Sociology
Barry persuasively argues that differentials in positional goods allow the rich to have better personal health due to higher self–esteem, better access to more fulfilling jobs due to a wealth of social connections, and greater ability to capture the government and use it to secure their own interests.
Barry argues that only if inequalities of wealth and income are kept within a narrow range can equal prospects for education, health and autonomy be realized. He proposes a number of policies to achieve a more equal society and argues that they are economically feasible. But are they politically possible? The apparent stability of the status quo is delusory, he responds: radical changes in our way of life are unavoidable. Whether these changes are for better or for worse depends partly on the availability of a coherent set of principles and a programme flowing from them that is capable of mobilizing the growing discontent with business as usual′.
That is, ultimately, why social justice matters.