introducing social action

Here we explore social action. By social action we mean organized activity that seeks to improve human welfare, deepen civic culture and develop group life and commitment to others. Such a definition entails looking at the cultivation of a just and caring communal life. As such it involves a direct appeal to values and principles - and this will usually be grounded in some sort of shared belief system such as those that develop within religious institutions and social movements. Thus Catholic social action is likely to appeal to Catholic social teaching and ideas such as: the dignity of the human person; human rights and duties; the social nature of the person; the common good; relationship, subsidiarity and socialisation; solidarity and options for the poor (Caritas 2003).

Many of the groups and organizations that today define their activities as social action have religious roots. Quaker Social Action, for example, began in 1867 as the Bedford Institute Association. Its initial work involved education such as children's Sunday schools, and adult schools; religious efforts; moral training (including temperance meetings, penny banks and lending libraries); and relief of the sick and destitute. Settlements and the like were important breeding grounds both for social action thinking and activity, as were the traditions of local organizing that developed with unionism and the emergence of neighbourhood and community organizing.

links: caritas - catholic social action; quaker social action


exploring social action: backnext