What is Social Criticism?

Meaning of Social Criticism

Social criticism implies, based on its analysis, the search for solutions to the social problems in question.

It is related to moral questions and their transformations and is generally accompanied by a tone of denunciation or discovery.

Poverty, social and economic inequalities , cultural aspects, among others, are often the subject of social criticism. Ethical dilemmas , such as the death penalty and abortion, are also the subject of social criticism.

For some authors such as Michael Wazer (1985), social criticism can be understood as interpretation; If all reality is subject to interpretation, social criticism is a new interpretation of reality.

But, what is the common point between these models of interpretation? The philosopher Thomas Nagel identifies a moral principle: we cannot be indifferent to the suffering of other people.

For him, social criticism is based on this moral principle . However, Wazer maintains that this principle is not very different from the religious maxim “Do you love your neighbor as yourself?” .

So what makes us really not indifferent, or what makes us create models to determine what we should not be indifferent to?

Suffering here is not just about physical aspects. But it has symbolic and moral aspects. Not being accepted, being disgusted, rejected or prevented by individual choices, such as gender choice, or belonging to a certain ethnic group, such as refugees, are different forms of suffering.

Social criticism lies in developing arguments and generating evidence about the suffering of the other and, from there, proposing solutions or forms of tolerance, of recognition.

Therefore, as can be seen, social criticism also resides in the question: what is fair? Why do suffering, injustice and inequality exist for some and not for others?

After this brief presentation on social criticism and its constitutive aspects, some social criticism and its consequences can be presented.

An example of social criticism is Marxist theory. Questioning the social reality caused by the Industrial Revolution, Karl Marx was impressed with the suffering attributed to these men and reflected on the causes of this process.

His theory is ultimately propositional when he imagines that after the revolution men will live in better social and economic conditions and will be free, in the sense given by this author to freedom.

Literary, cinematographic works and art in general also carry out, when they are not intended solely for the aesthetic or reflective character of art itself, some kind of social criticism.

Works such as Guernica, by Pablo Picasso; and Retirees, by Cândido Portinari. Movies like me, Daniel Blake, by Ken Loach.

Photographs dealing with themes such as wars, for example those by James Nachtwey and Gerda Taro, and artistic interventions such as Banksy’s graffiti are examples of social criticism .

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