Social justice constitutes one of the defining principles of social work and is often used as a point of reference when social workers wish to anchor their work ethically, be it practice or scholarly work. Frequently, however, social work theorists and practitioners assume a level of clarity and consensus within the profession regarding the concept of social justice that does not necessarily exist. In order words, there is a need to interrogate the concept of social justice regarding its evolving meaning, scope, and inherent tensions in relation to the diverse theory and practice contexts of social work. This chapter explores possible directions for a conceptualization of social justice for international social work. A review of some of the key discourses and debates to date reveals that social justice for social workers includes questions of just distribution and recognition, requiring our critical engagement with exclusionary and unjust structures and processes in contemporary societies. Where critical engagement may have been lacking so far is the question of the scope and boundaries of social justice. However, the increasingly felt impact of globalization in general and cross-border migration in particular have made the need to close this conceptual gap more apparent.
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