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Question 1

What is the relationship between Models of Social Justice and Models of Democracy as outlined by
Greenberg and Dye and Ziegler and their applicability to the American Political System?
Analyzing the relationship between model of social justice and models of democracy is a
very challenging undertaking. Edward Greenberg in "The American Political System", provides a
series of analyses exploring the relationship between models of social justice and models of
democracy. At the core of his argument is the contention that models of social justice are the bases
for models of democracy and the concepts and philosophies of both provide the foundational
structure for the American Political System.
The underlying assumptions and implications that arise from each model of social justice and
model of democracy, and the inherent difficulties involved in defining such abstract concepts, make
answering questions of whether America is a democracy and/or whether America is just, very
challenging. Definitions of the very words justice and democracy are often quite subjective and
may differ from individual to individual, and community to community. Furthermore, applying these
concepts to the current socio-economic and political circumstances in America, and relating
individual and collective experiences as well as perspectives on how well or poorly the American
Political System functions, underscores the utmost importance of understanding public policy and its
effect on the social class structure in America.
Greenberg makes clear that although the term justice is ambiguous, it is possible to examine
the various concepts of social justice, the assumptions made by each model, and their implications
concerning equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. The social justice model of Classical
Liberalism asserts justice as an ideal free market, where each individual is able to pursue his or her
self-interest and to acquire property. ( p. 18) This notion is accepted and furthered in 20th Century
Liberalism which postulates an increased availability of opportunities. These models are rooted in
Lockes philosophy that all people are entitled to the rights of life, liberty, and property, and furthered
by Nozicks assertion that people are entitled to the possessions they are born with or acquire.
Inequality is accepted and celebrated, and it is clear that equality of opportunity and equality of
outcome are completely different assertions. 20th Century Liberalism defends equal rights and equal
opportunity, and in pursuit of these, the actual accessibility to opportunities, and the role of
government in targeting and developing policy initiatives, to assist those who experience the adverse
effects of the free market.
The term and concept of democracy has also come to hold many different definitions and
applications, yet the underlying value in almost any modern understanding of democracy is
individual dignity. (Dye and Ziegler, p. 5) Part of protecting individual dignity is providing
opportunity for self-development, which presumes self-government, and self government comes
about only by encouraging each individual to contribute to the development of public policy and by
resolving conflicts over public policy through majority rule. (p. 6) This theory of democracy is the
basis of the different models of democracy, and the political system in America is presently most
accurately reflected by the Liberal-Representative and Pluralist models.
Direct democracy is not possible precisely because the Founding Fathers were completely
against it and ensured that it had no place in American life. Moreover, the sheer size of the country
would make it impossible for such a model as defined by Plato, Rousseau and J.S. Mills to work.

With direct democracy, every person is participating and determining and agreeing upon different
policies and procedures, and constantly being present for assembly is not possible, as other
obligations and duties are needed. In America, people rule indirectly, through representatives
authorized to make policy decisions in the name of those who elected them. (Greenberg, p. 25)
Those who rule and those who are ruled are considered a self-evident dichotomy, and pluralism goes
further and asserts that ruling interests groups affect and determine public policy. Although the
American government is a bicameral legislature, special-interest groups and parties lobby for
different policies and initiatives which are rooted in the either the development of or preservation of
privilege; the reality is that the vast majority of people are uninformed, or uninterested in politics and
public policy. Although it appears that every person has a voice, and one person, one vote is
advertised and available for all citizens of age, the options presented and how these options are
limited and pre-determined should be taken into consideration.
From the Classical Liberalism and 20th Century Liberalism models of social justice and the
Liberal Representative and Pluralist models of democracy, relating the notion that justice exists in a
society that enables each individual to pursue happiness, success, and acquire property through just
means, and the notion that self-development encompasses active political participation, reflects the
best intentions of a political system that is just. In reality, the American Political System is a
majoritarily a product of elite influence. The difficulty of even identifying issues within our system
and finding solutions to advocate on their behalf is discussed in David A. Smiths review of Wolfes
Americas Impasse, sending the message that problems of political exhaustion and economic
stagnation require understanding their systemic nature and proposing policy alternatives that address
structural causes. (Smith, p. 971)
People are disillusioned by the presentations of the models of social justice and democracy,
and are not always able to see that the two are closely related and dependent upon each other, as they
are rooted in the same concepts and philosophies that provide the foundation for the system itself. In
Procedural Justice Theory and Evaluations of the Lawmaking Process Grangl examines public
opinion and legitimacy assessments of the lawmaking processes and the current American political
system, and includes several studies that demonstrate that many people are more concerned with
(other) citizens views playing a prominent role in the political process than they are with the policy
outcomes produced. (p. 120) Furthermore, the people who are actually interested in advancing
certain initiatives, ideas and solutions, may not be able to because they lack the necessary political
literacy, or social capital.
One of many examples of flaws in our current political structure is seen in what Lawrence
Bobo coined laissez-faire racism which assumes that American Political System will provide for
those who would not otherwise be afforded opportunities for social, political, and economic
advancement, under the premise that equality of opportunity exists despite the overwhelming
stratification in which our society is rooted. Social, political, and economic inequality of opportunity
and inequality of outcome is widely misunderstood and overlooked.
In summary, understanding the different models of social justice and models of democracy
and their applications in contemporary society, will allow for a more cultivated and accurate
understanding of the institutional dynamics and that may enable wider considerations of current
issues (both systemic and institutional in nature) necessary in approaching and uncovering solutions
to the aforementioned flaws.
Works Cited

Dye, Thomas R., and L. Harmon Zeigler. The Irony of Democracy; an Uncommon Introduction to
American Politics. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub., 2014. Print.

Gangl, Amy. "Procedural Justice Theory and Evaluations of the Lawmaking Process." Political
Behavior 25.22 (2002): 119-49. JSTOR. Web. 26 Apr. 2014.
Greenberg, Edward S. The American Political System: A Radical Approach. New York, New York:
Pearson Education, 1989. Print.
Smith, David A. Rev. of America's Impasse: The Rise and Fall of the Politics of Growth. by Alan
Wolfe. n.d.: n. pag. JSTOR. Web. 26 Apr. 2014. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/2578180>.