Charitable assistance is a common response to food insecurity in many affluent countries. The coalition featured in this case study is explicitly concerned with social justice, mitigating the potential for charitable assistance to mask the extent of food insecurity, its root causes and its long-term consequences. The coalition structure has assisted community workers in transcending day-to-day routines, so as to reflect on the politics of food insecurity and institutionalised responses to this problem. Coalition members have defined food security as an objective whose achievement will entail comprehensive reform. One noteworthy outcome has been to recommend that member groups not redistribute a number of foodstuffs commonly donated by individuals and corporations. In grappling with a tension between responding to immediate needs for food and addressing the root causes of these needs, community workers have paid attention to public health.
The social determinants of health (SDH) are recognized as important indicators of health and well-being. Health-care services (primary, secondary, tertiary care) have not until recently been considered an SDH. Inequities in access to health care are changing this view. These inequities include barriers faced by certain population groups at point of care, such as the lack of cultural competence of health-care providers. The authors show how a social justice perspective can help nurses understand how to link inequities in access to poorer health outcomes, and they call on nurses to break the cycle of oppression that contributes to these inequities.
Our interest in a human rights and health discourse emerges from our efforts as social scientists to bring a meaningful social justice perspective to the realm of public health. In Canada, as in many countries, "health" is still firmly within the domain of the biomedical and the clinical. While considerable effort has been made to include more social, economic, and cultural perspectives, efforts to frame these issues as political phenomena have tended to be polarized into either a rich body of theoretical literature or case studies of interventions which have in varying degrees incorporated a social justice approach. What is still missing is a framework of discourse that allows various concepts of social justice to inform policy, intervention strategies, evaluation and evidence-based measures of effectiveness. This commentary examines the human rights discourse as conceptual space from which to build this framework.
Previous research has shown that white males have a relatively low perception of risks, known as the "white male effect" (WME). Many of the explanations of this effect refer to the privileged position of this particular demographic group in society, adducing white males' socio-economic resources, sense of control, worldviews, etc. It can thus be argued that inequality leads women and ethnic minorities to have higher risk perception than men and the ethnic majority. Therefore, the aim of this study is to investigate the WME in a gender-equal country, Sweden, to see if the pattern is similar to previous studies from the comparably less gender-equal United States. The empirical analyses are based on a national survey (n= 1,472) on the perception of risk conducted in Sweden in the winter of 2005. The results show that in Sweden there is no significant difference between men and women in risk perception, while people with foreign backgrounds perceive risks higher than native people. The chief finding is that there is no WME in Sweden, which we concluded results from the relative equality between the sexes in the country. On the other hand, ethnicity serves as a marker of inequality and discrimination in Sweden. Consequently, ethnicity, in terms of foreign background, mediates inequality, resulting in high risk perception. Equality therefore seems to be a fruitful concept with which to examine differences in risk perception between groups in society, and we propose that the "societal inequality effect" is a more proper description than the "WME."