Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice


The main focus of the centre's activities revolve around research into various aspects of how justice has been thought about, sought after and implemented within and beyond the state.

Some of the main research areas of the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice are outlined below.

Please contact us for information on individual projects, or interests.

Main areas of research:

Occupy London: Global Democracy Now. Credit: chanceprojects Occupy London Tent by Neil Cummings Flickr Occupy Creative Commons License


1) Political theory

Globalisation, cosmopolitanism, migration, citizenship and solidarity

In a world where migration is becoming increasingly significant, what are the grounds for the award of citizenship? Does the rich north have obligations to the poor south? If so, why? If not, why not? What does it mean to be a 'global citizen'? What are the nature of 'our' obligations and duties to each other? Who are 'we' in this context? What is 'humanitarian intervention'? Could that possibly be a bad thing?

Postcolonial studies

What is 'postcolonial studies'? What are the theoretical sources available to those interested in questions of race and 'cultural imperialism'. Is this just another form of 'identity politics', or the 'politics of recognition', in the Hegelian sense? Is there a difference between the two? 

Justice and utopia

What is the role of 'utopia' and 'dystopia' in thinking about justice generally? In the case of 'global justice', is a 'world state' emerging at the global level, or is this a 'utopian' scenario? If such a political organisation devoted to 'global governance' were to emerge, would this be a good thing or not? How does the International Criminal Court contribute to justice and peace? 

Intergenerational justice

For the first time in history, man-made disasters such as climate change or nuclear war might damage the earth for hundreds or thousands of years. Yet if economic growth continues, our descendants are likely to enjoy higher incomes than we do. Costly measures to fight climate change will benefit people who may well, in some respects, be richer than we are.

When balancing the interests of present and future people, should we 'discount the future', as many economists argue? Or should we accord gains and losses to our descendants the same weight as our own, as the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change maintained? Might this not then require us, as Stern's critics argued, to make huge sacrifices for the sake of small gains to future rich people, simply because there will be so many of them? Can people have rights if they don't yet exist, and can we harm them if these particular persons would never have been born in the absence of our actions? 

Intervention in developing states

Why do states intervene in others? How do theories of international relations and post-colonialism explain intervention? What is the role of international organisations in conflict prevention and mediation?

2) Critical political economy

Theorizing 'globalisation'

Globalisation has resulted in the organisation of large parts of production across borders as well as the emergence of a global financial market. And yet, the world continues to be politically divided into multiple nation states. How can we understand the relations between geo-politics and global capitalism? Are we experiencing a new period of imperialism and, if so, is it driven by the U.S. as a particular state or is it the result of the dominance by a new transnational capital class?

Globalisation and 'development'

Neo-liberal supporters of globalisation praise the current period as an opportunity for development. And yet, people in the poorest countries on earth continue to struggle to make ends meet. In fact, inequality is not only increasing between countries, but also within countries including industrialised countries in the North. Has globalisation resulted in an increase in inequality across the board rather than development and, if so, why?

The rise of China

The rise of China is often put forward as an example of successful developmental catch-up. And yet, super developed coastal regions are counterpoised with backward internal areas in China. An emerging rich middle class is contrasted with super exploited workers in Foxconn factories. How can we understand Chinese development?

'Free trade' and the intensification of neo-liberal restructuring

It is mainly through new free trade agreements that neo-liberal restructuring is being pushed forward against the background of the global financial crisis. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a key example in this respect. Can it actually deliver on the promises of economic growth, put forward by its supporters, or will it result in a decline in food standards, the privatisation of essential public services and an undermining of democracy?

What are the dangers of the intended investor-state dispute settlement mechanism? What is the impact of trade agreements on local communities in states in the developing world? What issues could be addressed to improve the well-being of these communities, and in particular of women within these communities?

3) Politics of new social movements

Globalisation and social movements

What is the role of 'old' movements such as 'trade unionism' in resisting neoliberal global restructuring? How effective are these movements? What is the alternative to them? Does the World Social Forum prefigure new forms of agency and mobilization?

Social movements in the global south

How effective are such agents as 'peasants', 'anti-corporate activists' and 'ethical consumers' at contesting globalisation? How do social movements in the global south develop and spread discourses and practices of resistance? How is 'knowledge' that contributes to the strengthening of such emancipatory projects produced? What is the role of 'education' here?

Democracy, protest and legitimation

What are the proper limits of protest and 'direct action' by groups seeking justice in a democratic society? Should individuals be bound by the majority - or are there some issues and concerns which are so important (eg. 'climate change', 'the environment', 'animal rights') that they override the democratic imperative? Can direct action be justified? If so, how?



School of Politics and International Relations
Law and Social Sciences building
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

+44 (0)115 846 8135