Parents, friends, the media, religious leaders, your professor, books, or web pages are all examples of secondary sources of information that some people trust for information. Experience : People often claim to have learned something through an experience, such as a car accident or using some type of drug. Some physical skills, such as waterskiing or playing basketball, are acquired primarily through experience. On the other hand, some experiences are subjective and are not generalizable to all. Logic : Simple deduction is often used to discern truth from falsity and is the primary way of knowing used in philosophy.
I might suggest that if I fall in a swimming pool full of water, I will get wet. If that premise is true and I fall in a swimming pool, you could deduce that I got wet. Tradition : Many people who live in societies that have not experienced industrialization decide what to do in the future by repeating what was done in the past. Even in modern societies, many people get satisfaction out of celebrating holidays the same way year after year.
Fast-paced change in modern societies, however, makes traditional knowledge less and less helpful in making good choices. Revelation : Some people claim to acquire knowledge believed to be valid by consulting religious texts and believing what is written in them, such as the Torah, the Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, or the Book of Mormon.
Others claim to receive revelations from a higher power in the form of voices or a general intuitive sense of what one should do. Science : The scientific method combines the use of logic with controlled experience, creating a novel way of discovery that marries sensory input with careful thinking. By adopting a model of cause and effect, scientists produce knowledge that can explain certain phenomena and even predict various outcomes before they occur.
These methods of claiming to know certain things are referred to as epistemologies. An epistemology is simply a way of knowing. In Sociology, information gathered through science is privileged over all others. That is, information gleaned using other epistemologies will be rejected if it is not supported by evidence gathered using the scientific method. A scientific method or process is considered fundamental to the scientific investigation and acquisition of new knowledge based upon verifiable evidence.
In addition to employing the scientific method in their research, sociologists explore the social world with several different purposes in mind. Like the physical sciences i. This approach to doing science is often termed positivism though perhaps more accurately should be called empiricism. The positivist approach to social science seeks to explain and predict social phenomena, often employing a quantitative approach where aspects of social life are assigned numerical codes and subjected to in-depth analyses to uncover trends often missed by a casual observer.
This approach most often makes use of deductive reasoning , which initially forms a theory and hypothesis, which are then subjected to empirical testing. Unlike the physical sciences, sociology and other social sciences, like anthropology also often seek simply to understand social phenomena. Max Weber labeled this approach Verstehen , which is German for understanding. This approach, called qualitative sociology, aims to understand a culture or phenomenon on its own terms rather than trying to develop a theory that allows for prediction. Qualitative sociologists more frequently use inductive reasoning where an investigator will take time to make repeated observations of the phenomena under study, with the hope of coming to a thorough and grounded understanding of what is really going on.
Both approaches employ a scientific method as they make observations and gather data, propose hypotheses, and test or refine their hypotheses in the formulation of theories. These steps are outlined in more detail below. Sociologists use observations, hypotheses, deductions, and inductions to understand and ultimately develop explanations for social phenomena in the form of theories. Predictions from these theories are tested.
If a prediction turns out to be correct, the theory survives.
If not, the theory is modified or discarded. The method is commonly taken as the underlying logic of scientific practice. Science is essentially an extremely cautious means of building a supportable, evidenced understanding of our natural and social worlds. The essential elements of a scientific method are iterations and recursions of the following four steps:. A scientific method depends upon a careful characterization of the subject of the investigation.
The systematic, careful collection of measurements, counts or categorical distinctions of relevant quantities or qualities is often the critical difference between pseudo-sciences, such as alchemy , and a science, such as chemistry. Scientific measurements are usually tabulated, graphed, or mapped, and statistical manipulations, such as correlation and regression , performed on them. The measurements might be made in a controlled setting, such as a laboratory, or made on more or less inaccessible or unmanipulatable objects such as human populations. The measurements often require specialized scientific instruments such as thermometers, spectroscopes, or voltmeters, and the progress of a scientific field is usually intimately tied to their invention and development.
These categorical distinctions generally require specialized coding or sorting protocols that allow differential qualities to be sorted into distinct categories, which may be compared and contrasted over time, and the progress of scientific fields in this vein are generally tied to the accumulation of systematic categories and observations across multiple natural sites. In both cases, scientific progress relies upon ongoing intermingling between measurement and categorical approaches to data analysis.
Measurements demand the use of operational definitions of relevant quantities a. That is, a scientific quantity is described or defined by how it is measured, as opposed to some more vague, inexact or idealized definition. The operational definition of a thing often relies on comparisons with standards: the operational definition of mass ultimately relies on the use of an artifact, such as a certain kilogram of platinum kept in a laboratory in France.
In short, to operationalize a variable means creating an operational definition for a concept someone intends to measure. Similarly, categorical distinctions rely upon the use of previously observed categorizations.
A scientific category is thus described or defined based upon existing information gained from prior observations and patterns in the natural world as opposed to socially constructed "measurements" and "standards" in order to capture potential missing pieces in the logic and definitions of previous studies. In both cases, however, how this is done is very important as it should be done with enough precision that independent researchers should be able to use your description of your measurement or construction of categories, and repeat either or both.
The scientific definition of a term sometimes differs substantially from its natural language usage. For example, sex and gender are often used interchangeably in common discourse, but have distinct meanings in sociology. Scientific quantities are often characterized by their units of measure which can later be described in terms of conventional physical units when communicating the work while scientific categorizations are generally characterized by their shared qualities which can later be described in terms of conventional linguistic patterns of communication.
Measurements and categorizations in scientific work are also usually accompanied by estimates of their uncertainty or disclaimers concerning the scope of initial observations. The uncertainty is often estimated by making repeated measurements of the desired quantity. Uncertainties may also be calculated by consideration of the uncertainties of the individual underlying quantities that are used.
Counts of things, such as the number of people in a nation at a particular time, may also have an uncertainty due to limitations of the method used. Counts may only represent a sample of desired quantities, with an uncertainty that depends upon the sampling method used and the number of samples taken see the central limit theorem.
A hypothesis includes a suggested explanation of the subject. In quantitative work, it will generally provide a causal explanation or propose some association between two variables. If the hypothesis is a causal explanation, it will involve at least one dependent variable and one independent variable.erp.ramlimited.com/a-new-introduction-to-chaucer-longman-medieval.php
Download Education In A Post Welfare Society 2Nd Edition Introducing Social Policy
In qualitative work, hypotheses generally involve potential assumptions built into existing causal statements, which may be examined in a natural setting. Variables are measurable phenomena whose values or qualities can change e. A dependent variable is a variable whose values or qualities are presumed to change as a result of the independent variable. In other words, the value or quality of a dependent variable depends on the value of the independent variable. Of course, this assumes that there is an actual relationship between the two variables. If there is no relationship, then the value or quality of the dependent variable does not depend on the value of the independent variable.
An independent variable is a variable whose value or quality is manipulated by the experimenter or, in the case of non-experimental analysis, changes in the society and is measured or observed systematically. Perhaps an example will help clarify. Promotion would be the dependent variable. Change in promotion is hypothesized to be dependent on gender. Scientists use whatever they can — their own creativity, ideas from other fields, induction, deduction, systematic guessing, etc. There are no definitive guidelines for the production of new hypotheses.
The history of science is filled with stories of scientists claiming a flash of inspiration , or a hunch, which then motivated them to look for evidence to support, refute, or refine their idea or develop an entirely new framework. A useful quantitative hypothesis will enable predictions, by deductive reasoning, that can be experimentally assessed. If results contradict the predictions, then the hypothesis under examination is incorrect or incomplete and requires either revision or abandonment. If results confirm the predictions, then the hypothesis might be correct but is still subject to further testing.
Predictions refer to experimental designs with a currently unknown outcome. A prediction of an unknown differs from a consequence which can already be known. Once a prediction is made, a method is designed to test or critique it. The investigator may seek either confirmation or falsification of the hypothesis, and refinement or understanding of the data. Though a variety of methods are used by both natural and social scientists, laboratory experiments remain one of the most respected methods by which to test hypotheses. Scientists assume an attitude of openness and accountability on the part of those conducting an experiment.
Detailed record keeping is essential, to aid in recording and reporting on the experimental results, and providing evidence of the effectiveness and integrity of the procedure. They will also assist in reproducing the experimental results. The experiment's integrity should be ascertained by the introduction of a control or by observation of existing controls in natural settings. In experiments where controls are observed rather than introduced, researchers take into account potential variables e. On the other hand, in experiments where a control is introduced, two virtually identical experiments are run, in only one of which the factor being tested is varied.
This serves to further isolate any causal phenomena. For example in testing a drug it is important to carefully test that the supposed effect of the drug is produced only by the drug. Doctors may do this with a double-blind study: two virtually identical groups of patients are compared, one of which receives the drug and one of which receives a placebo. Neither the patients nor the doctor know who is getting the real drug, isolating its effects. This type of experiment is often referred to as a true experiment because of its design.
It is contrasted with alternative forms below. Once an experiment is complete, a researcher determines whether the results or data gathered are what was predicted or assumed in the literature beforehand. If the experiment appears successful - i. An experiment is not an absolute requirement.
In observation based fields of science actual experiments must be designed differently than for the classical laboratory based sciences. Sociologists are more likely to employ quasi-experimental designs where data are collected from people by surveys or interviews, but statistical means are used to create groups that can be compared. For instance, in examining the effects of gender on promotions, sociologists may control for the effects of social class as this variable will likely influence the relationship.
Unlike a true experiment where these variables are held constant in a laboratory setting, quantitative sociologists use statistical methods to hold constant social class or, better stated, partial out the variance accounted for by social class so they can see the relationship between gender and promotions without the interference of social class.
The four components of research described above are integrated into the following steps of the research process. Qualitative sociologists generally employ observational and analytic techniques that allow them to contextualize observed patterns in relation to existing hierarchies or assumptions within natural settings. Thus, while the true experiment is ideally suited for the performance of quantitative science, especially because it is the best quantitative method for deriving causal relationships , other methods of hypothesis testing are commonly employed in the social sciences, and qualitative methods of critique and analysis are utilized to fact check the assumptions and theories created upon the basis of "controlled" rather than natural circumstances.
The scientific process is iterative.
At any stage it is possible that some consideration will lead the scientist to repeat an earlier part of the process. For instance, failure of a hypothesis to produce interesting and testable predictions may lead to reconsideration of the hypothesis or of the definition of the subject. It is also important to note that science is a social enterprise, and scientific work will become accepted by the community only if it can be verified and it "makes sense" within existing scientific beliefs and assumptions about the world when new findings complicate these assumptions and beliefs, we generally witness paradigm shifts in science .
All scientific knowledge is in a state of flux, for at any time new evidence could be presented that contradicts a long-held hypothesis, and new perspectives e. For this reason, scientific journals use a process of peer review , in which scientists' manuscripts are submitted by editors of scientific journals to usually one to three fellow usually anonymous scientists familiar with the field for evaluation. The referees may or may not recommend publication, publication with suggested modifications, or, sometimes, publication in another journal.
Sometimes peer review inhibits the circulation of unorthodox work, and at other times may be too permissive. The peer review process is not always successful, but has been very widely adopted by the scientific community. The reproducibility or replication of quantitative scientific observations, while usually described as being very important in a scientific method, is actually seldom reported, and is in reality often not done.
Referees and editors often reject papers purporting only to reproduce some observations as being unoriginal and not containing anything new. Occasionally reports of a failure to reproduce results are published - mostly in cases where controversy exists or a suspicion of fraud develops. The threat of failure to replicate by others as well as the ongoing qualitative enterprise designed to explore the veracity of quantitative findings in non-controlled settings , however, serves as a very effective deterrent for most quantitative scientists, who will usually replicate their own data several times before attempting to publish.
Sometimes useful observations or phenomena themselves cannot be reproduced in fact, this is almost always the case in qualitative science spanning physical and social science disciplines. They may be rare, or even unique events. Reproducibility of quantitative observations and replication of experiments is not a guarantee that they are correct or properly understood. Errors can all too often creep into more than one laboratory or pattern of interpretation mathematical or qualitative utilized by scientists.
In the scientific pursuit of quantitative prediction and explanation, two relationships between variables are often confused: correlation and causation. While these terms are rarely used in qualitative science, they lie at the heart of quantitative methods, and thus constitute a cornerstone of scientific practice.
Correlation refers to a relationship between two or more variables in which they change together. A positive correlation means that as one variable increases e. A negative correlation is just the opposite; as one variable increases e. Causation refers to a relationship between two or more variables where one variable causes the other. In order for a variable to cause another, it must meet the following three criteria:.
An example may help explain the difference. Ice cream consumption is positively correlated with incidents of crime. Employing the quantitative method outlined above, the reader should immediately question this relationship and attempt to discover an explanation.
It is at this point that a simple yet noteworthy phrase should be introduced: correlation is not causation. If you look back at the three criteria of causation above, you will notice that the relationship between ice cream consumption and crime meets only one of the three criteria they change together. The real explanation of this relationship is the introduction of a third variable: temperature. Ice cream consumption and crime increase during the summer months.
Thus, while these two variables are correlated, ice cream consumption does not cause crime or vice versa. Both variables increase due to the increasing temperatures during the summer months. It is often the case that correlations between variables are found but the relationship turns out to be spurious. Clearly understanding the relationship between variables is an important element of the quantitative scientific process. Like the distinction drawn between positivist sociology and Verstehen sociology, there is - as noted above in the elaboration of general scientific methods - often a distinction drawn between two types of sociological investigation: quantitative and qualitative.
For instance, social class, following the quantitative approach, can be divided into different groups - upper-, middle-, and lower-class - and can be measured using any of a number of variables or a combination thereof: income, educational attainment, prestige, power, etc. Quantitative sociologists also utilize mathematical models capable of organizing social experiences into a rational order that may provide a necessary foundation for more in depth analyses of the natural world importantly, this element of quantitative research often provides the initial or potential insights that guide much theoretical and qualitative analyses of patterns observed - numerically or otherwise - beyond the confines of mathematical models.
Quantitative sociologists tend to use specific methods of data collection and hypothesis testing, including: experimental designs , surveys , secondary data analysis , and statistical analysis. Further, quantitative sociologists typically believe in the possibility of scientifically demonstrating causation, and typically utilize analytic deduction e.
Finally, quantitative sociologists generally attempt to utilize mathematical realities e. Qualitative methods of sociological research tend to approach social phenomena from the Verstehen perspective. Rather than attempting to measure or quantify reality via mathematical rules, qualitative sociologists explore variation in the natural world people may see, touch, and experience during their lives. As such, these methods are primarily used to a develop a deeper understanding of a particular phenomenon, b explore the accuracy or inaccuracy of mathematical models in the world people experience, c critique and question the existing assumptions and beliefs of both scientists and other social beings, and d refine measurements and controls used by quantitative scientists via insights gleaned from the experiences of actual people.
While qualitative methods may be used to propose or explore relationships between variables, these studies typically focus on explicating the realities people experience that lie at the heart or foundation of such relationships rather than focusing on the relationships themselves. Qualitatively oriented sociologists tend to employ different methods of data collection and analysis, including: participant observation , interviews , focus groups , content analysis , visual sociology , and historical comparison.
Further, qualitative sociologists typically reject measurement or quantities essential to quantitative approaches and the notion or belief in causality e. Finally, qualitative sociologists generally attempt to utilize natural realities e. While there are sociologists who employ and encourage the use of only one or the other method, many sociologists see benefits in combining the approaches.
They view quantitative and qualitative approaches as complementary. Results from one approach can fill gaps in the other approach. For example, quantitative methods could describe large or general patterns in society while qualitative approaches could help to explain how individuals understand those patterns. Similarly, qualitative patterns in society can reveal missing pieces in the mathematical models of quantitative research while quantitative patterns in society can guide more in-depth analysis of actual patterns in natural settings.
In fact, it is useful to note that many of the major advancements in social science have emerged in response to the combination of quantitative and qualitative techniques that collectively created a more systematic picture of probable and actual social conditions and experiences. Sociologists, like all humans, have values, beliefs, and even pre-conceived notions of what they might find in doing their research. Because sociologists are not immune to the desire to change the world, two approaches to sociological investigation have emerged.
By far the most common is the objective approach advocated by Max Weber. Weber recognized that social scientists have opinions, but argued against the expression of non-professional or non-scientific opinions in the classroom. Weber did argue that it was acceptable for social scientists to express their opinions outside of the classroom and advocated for social scientists to be involved in politics and other social activism.
The objective approach to social science remains popular in sociological research and refereed journals because it refuses to engage social issues at the level of opinions and instead focuses intently on data and theories. The objective approach is contrasted with the critical approach, which has its roots in Karl Marx's work on economic structures. Anyone familiar with Marxist theory will recognize that Marx went beyond describing society to advocating for change.
Marx disliked capitalism and his analysis of that economic system included the call for change. This approach to sociology is often referred to today as critical sociology see also action research. Some sociological journals focus on critical sociology and some sociological approaches are inherently critical e. Building on these early insights, the rise of Feminist methods and theories in the 's ushered in an ongoing debate concerning critical versus objective realities.
Drawing on early Feminist writings by social advocates including but not limited to Elizabeth Cady Stanton , Alice Paul , Ida Wells Barnett , Betty Friedan , and sociological theorists including but not limited to Dorothy Smith , Joan Acker , and Patricia Yancey Martin , Feminist sociologists critiqued "objective" traditions as unrealistic and unscientific in practice.
Specifically, they - along with critical theorists like Michel Foucault , bell hooks , and Patricia Hill Collins - argued that since all science was conducted and all data was interpreted by human beings and all human beings have beliefs, values, and biases that they are often unaware of and that shape their perception of reality see The Social Construction of Reality , objectivity only existed within the beliefs and values of the people that claimed it.
Stated another way, since human beings are responsible for scientific knowledge despite the fact that human beings cannot be aware of all the potential biases, beliefs, and values they use to do their science, select their topics, construct measurements, and interpret data, "objective" or "value free" science are not possible. Rather, these theorists argued that the "personal is political" e. Whether or not scientists explicitly invoke their personal opinions in their teaching and research, every decision scientists make will ultimately rely upon - and thus demonstrate to varying degrees - their subjective realities.
Some examples of the subjective basis of both "objective" and "critical" sociology may illustrate the point. First, we may examine the research process for both objective and critical sociologists while paying attention to the many decisions people must make to engage in any study from either perspective. These decisions include:. As you can see above, the research process itself is full of decisions that each researcher must make. As a result, researchers themselves have no opportunity to conduct objective studies because doing research requires them to use their personal experiences and opinions whether these arise from personal life, the advice of the people that taught them research methods, or the books they have read that were ultimately subject to the same subjective processes throughout the process.
As a result, researchers can - as Feminists have long argued - attempt to be as objective as possible, but never actually hope to reach objectivity. This same problem arises in Weber's initial description of teaching. For someone to teach any course, for example, they must make a series of decisions including but not limited to:. As a result, Weber's objectivity dissolves before the teacher ever enters the classroom. Whether or not the teacher or researcher explicitly takes a political, religious, or social stance, he or she will ultimately demonstrate personal stances, beliefs, values, and biases implicitly throughout the course.
Although the recognition of all science as ultimately subjective to varying degrees is fairly well established at this point, the question of whether or not scientists should embrace this subjectivity remains an open one e. Further, there are many scientists in sociology and other sciences that still cling to beliefs about objectivity, and thus promote this belief political in and of itself in their teaching, research, and peer review.
As a result, the debate within the field continues without resolution, and will likely be an important part of scientific knowledge and scholarship for some time to come. Ethical considerations are of particular importance to sociologists because of the subject of investigation - people. Because ethical considerations are of so much importance, sociologists adhere to a rigorous set of ethical guidelines.
The most important ethical consideration of sociological research is that participants in sociological investigation are not harmed. While exactly what this entails can vary from study to study, there are several universally recognized considerations. For instance, research on children and youth always requires parental consent. Research on adults also requires informed consent and participants are never forced to participate.
Confidentiality and anonymity are two additional practices that ensure the safety of participants when sensitive information is provided e. To ensure the safety of participants, most universities maintain an institutional review board IRB that reviews studies that include human participants and ensures ethical rigor. It has not always been the case that scientists interested in studying humans have followed ethical principles in their research.
Several studies that, when brought to light, led to the introduction of ethical principles guiding human subjects research and Institutional Review Boards to ensure compliance with those principles, are worth noting, including the Tuskegee syphilis experiment , in which impoverished black men with syphilis were left untreated to track the progress of the disease and Nazi experimentation on humans. A recent paper by Susan M. Reverby  found that such unethical experiments were more widespread than just the widely known Tuskegee study and that the US Government funded a study in which thousands of Guatemalan prisoners were infected with syphilis to determine whether they could be cured with penicillin.
Ethical oversight in science is designed to prevent such egregious violations of human rights today. Sociologists also have professional ethical principles they follow. Obviously honesty in research, analysis, and publication is important. Sociologists who manipulate their data are ostracized and can have their memberships in professional organizations revoked. Conflicts of interest are also frowned upon. A conflict of interest can occur when a sociologist is given funding to conduct research on an issue that relates to the source of the funds.
For example, if Microsoft were to fund a sociologist to investigate whether users of Microsoft's product users are happier than users of open source software e. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, as several high profile cases illustrate e. But the disclosure of conflicts of interest is recommended by most professional organizations and many academic journals. A comprehensive explanation of sociological guidelines is provided on the website of the American Sociological Association.
An Introduction to Politics, State and Society
Having discussed the sociological approach to understanding society, it is worth noting the limitations of sociology. Because of the subject of investigation society , sociology runs into a number of problems that have significant implications for this field of inquiry:. While it is important to recognize the limitations of sociology, sociology's contributions to our understanding of society have been significant and continue to provide useful theories and tools for understanding humans as social beings.
Charmaz, Kathy. Blumer, Herbert. Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method. Sociologists develop theories to explain social phenomena. A theory is a proposed relationship between two or more concepts. In other words, a theory is explanation for why or how a phenomenon occurs. An example of a sociological theory is the work of Robert Putnam on the decline of civic engagement. While there are a number of factors that contribute to this decline Putnam's theory is quite complex , one of the prominent factors is the increased consumption of television as a form entertainment.
Putnam's theory proposes:. This element of Putnam's theory clearly illustrates the basic purpose of sociological theory: it proposes a relationship between two or more concepts. In this case, the concepts are civic engagement and television watching. The relationship is an inverse one - as one goes up, the other goes down. What's more, it is an explanation of one phenomenon with another: part of the reason why civic engagement has declined over the last several decades is because people are watching more television. Putnam's theory clearly contains the key elements of a sociological theory.
Sociological theory is developed at multiple levels, ranging from grand theory to highly contextualized and specific micro-range theories. There are many middle-range and micro-range theories in sociology. Because such theories are dependent on context and specific to certain situations, it is beyond the scope of this text to explore each of those theories.
The purpose of this chapter is to introduce some of the more well-known and most commonly used grand and middle-range theories in sociology. In the theory proposed above, the astute reader will notice that the theory includes two components: The data, in this case the findings that civic engagement has declined and TV watching has increased, and the proposed relationship, that the increase in television viewing has contributed to the decline in civic engagement.
Data alone are not particularly informative. If Putnam had not proposed a relationship between the two elements of social life, we may not have realized that television viewing does, in fact, reduce people's desire to and time for participating in civic life. In order to understand the social world around us, it is necessary to employ theory to draw the connections between seemingly disparate concepts. Another example of sociological theorizing illustrates this point.
In his now classic work, Suicide ,  Emile Durkheim was interested in explaining a social phenomenon, suicide , and employed both data and theory to offer an explanation. By aggregating data for large groups of people in Europe, Durkheim was able to discern patterns in suicide rates and connect those patterns with another concept or variable : religious affiliation. Durkheim found that Protestants were more likely to commit suicide than were Catholics. At this point, Durkheim's analysis was still in the data stage; he had not proposed an explanation for the different suicide rates of the two groups.
It was when Durkheim introduced the ideas of anomie and social solidarity that he began to explain the difference in suicide rates. Durkheim argued that the looser social ties found in Protestant religions lead to weaker social cohesion and reduced social solidarity. The higher suicide rates were the result of weakening social bonds among Protestants.
While Durkheim's findings have since been criticized, his study is a classic example of the use of theory to explain the relationship between two concepts. Durkheim's work also illustrates the importance of theory: without theories to explain the relationship between concepts, we would not be able to hypothesize cause and effect relationships in social life or outline processes whereby social events and patterns occur. As noted above, there are many theories in sociology. However, there are several broad theoretical perspectives that are prominent in the field they are arguably paradigms.
These theories are prominent because they are quite good at explaining social life. Product details Format Paperback pages Dimensions x x 20mm Other books in this series. Add to basket. Transport, Environment and Society Michael Cahill. Drugs Paul Higate. Revisiting the Welfare State Robert M. Comparative Social Policy Patricia Kennett.
Rating details. Book ratings by Goodreads. Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X. Learn about new offers and get more deals by joining our newsletter. Sign up now. Inextricably linked in the human heart are the relationship with God — recognized as Creator and Father, the source and fulfilment of life and of salvation — and openness in concrete love towards man, who must be treated as another self, even if he is an enemy cf.
Mt In man's inner dimension are rooted, in the final analysis, the commitment to justice and solidarity, to the building up of a social, economic and political life that corresponds to God's plan. The disciple of Christ as a new creation. Personal and social life, as well as human action in the world, is always threatened by sin. Christ's disciple adheres, in faith and through the sacraments, to Jesus' Paschal Mystery, so that his old self , with its evil inclinations, is crucified with Christ.
The inner transformation of the human person, in his being progressively conformed to Christ, is the necessary prerequisite for a real transformation of his relationships with others. It is not possible to love one's neighbour as oneself and to persevere in this conduct without the firm and constant determination to work for the good of all people and of each person, because we are all really responsible for everyone .
This path requires grace, which God offers to man in order to help him to overcome failings, to snatch him from the spiral of lies and violence, to sustain him and prompt him to restore with an ever new and ready spirit the network of authentic and honest relationships with his fellow men. Even the relationship with the created universe and human activity aimed at tending it and transforming it, activity which is daily endangered by man's pride and his inordinate self-love, must be purified and perfected by the cross and resurrection of Christ.
Man thanks his divine benefactor for all these things, he uses them and enjoys them in a spirit of poverty and freedom. Jesus Christ is the Son of God made man in whom and thanks to whom the world and man attain their authentic and full truth. The mystery of God's being infinitely close to man — brought about in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, who gave himself on the cross, abandoning himself to death — shows that the more that human realities are seen in the light of God's plan and lived in communion with God, the more they are empowered and liberated in their distinctive identity and in the freedom that is proper to them.
Sharing in Christ's life of sonship, made possible by the Incarnation and the Paschal gift of the Spirit, far from being a mortification, has the effect of unleashing the authentic and independent traits and identity that characterize human beings in all their various expressions. For by the very circumstance of their having been created, all things are endowed with their own stability, truth, goodness, proper laws and order.
There is no state of conflict between God and man, but a relationship of love in which the world and the fruits of human activity in the world are objects of mutual gift between the Father and his children, and among the children themselves, in Christ Jesus; in Christ and thanks to him the world and man attain their authentic and inherent meaning. In a universal vision of God's love that embraces everything that exists, God himself is revealed to us in Christ as Father and giver of life, and man as the one who, in Christ, receives everything from God as gift, humbly and freely, and who truly possesses everything as his own when he knows and experiences everything as belonging to God, originating in God and moving towards God.
The human person, in himself and in his vocation, transcends the limits of the created universe, of society and of history: his ultimate end is God himself , who has revealed himself to men in order to invite them and receive them into communion with himself . The human person cannot and must not be manipulated by social, economic or political structures, because every person has the freedom to direct himself towards his ultimate end.
We can speak here of an eschatological relativity , in the sense that man and the world are moving towards their end, which is the fulfilment of their destiny in God; we can also speak of a theological relativity , insofar as the gift of God, by which the definitive destiny of humanity and of creation will be attained, is infinitely greater than human possibilities and expectations.
Any totalitarian vision of society and the State, and any purely intra-worldly ideology of progress are contrary to the integral truth of the human person and to God's plan in history. The Church, sign and defender of the transcendence of the human person.
The goal of salvation, the Kingdom of God embraces all people and is fully realized beyond history, in God. The Church places herself concretely at the service of the Kingdom of God above all by announcing and communicating the Gospel of salvation and by establishing new Christian communities. Jn It follows from this, in particular, that the Church is not to be confused with the political community and is not bound to any political system . Indeed, it can be affirmed that the distinction between religion and politics and the principle of religious freedom constitute a specific achievement of Christianity and one of its fundamental historical and cultural contributions.
Precisely for this reason, the Church offers an original and irreplaceable contribution with the concern that impels her to make the family of mankind and its history more human, prompting her to place herself as a bulwark against every totalitarian temptation, as she shows man his integral and definitive vocation. At the level of concrete historical dynamics, therefore, the coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be discerned in the perspective of a determined and definitive social, economic or political organization.
Rather, it is seen in the development of a human social sense which for mankind is a leaven for attaining wholeness, justice and solidarity in openness to the Transcendent as a point of reference for one's own personal definitive fulfilment. The Church, the Kingdom of God and the renewal of social relations. God, in Christ, redeems not only the individual person but also the social relations existing between men. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. In this perspective, Church communities, brought together by the message of Jesus Christ and gathered in the Holy Spirit round the Risen Lord cf.
Mt , ; Lk , offer themselves as places of communion, witness and mission, and as catalysts for the redemption and transformation of social relationships. The transformation of social relationships that responds to the demands of the Kingdom of God is not fixed within concrete boundaries once and for all. Rather, it is a task entrusted to the Christian community, which is to develop it and carry it out through reflection and practices inspired by the Gospel.
It is the same Spirit of the Lord, leading the people of God while simultaneously permeating the universe, who from time to time inspires new and appropriate ways for humanity to exercise its creative responsibility. This inspiration is given to the community of Christians who are a part of the world and of history, and who are therefore open to dialogue with all people of good will in the common quest for the seeds of truth and freedom sown in the vast field of humanity. The dynamics of this renewal must be firmly anchored in the unchangeable principles of the natural law, inscribed by God the Creator in each of his creatures cf.
Rom , and bathed in eschatological light through Jesus Christ. This law is called to become the ultimate measure and rule of every dynamic related to human relations. In short, it is the very mystery of God, Trinitarian Love, that is the basis of the meaning and value of the person, of social relations, of human activity in the world, insofar as humanity has received the revelation of this and a share in it through Christ in his Spirit.
The transformation of the world is a fundamental requirement of our time also. To this need the Church's social Magisterium intends to offer the responses called for by the signs of the times, pointing above all to the mutual love between human beings, in the sight of God, as the most powerful instrument of change, on the personal and social levels. Mutual love, in fact, sharing in the infinite love of God, is humanity's authentic purpose, both historical and transcendent. New heavens and a new earth. God's promise and Jesus Christ's resurrection raise in Christians the well-founded hope that a new and eternal dwelling place is prepared for every human person, a new earth where justice abides cf.
This hope, rather than weaken, must instead strengthen concern for the work that is needed in the present reality. The good things — such as human dignity, brotherhood and freedom, all the good fruits of nature and of human enterprise — that in the Lord's Spirit and according to his command have spread throughout the earth, having been purified of every stain, illuminated and transfigured, belong to the Kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, of love and of peace that Christ will present to the Father, and it is there that we shall once again find them.
The complete fulfilment of the human person, achieved in Christ through the gift of the Spirit, develops in history and is mediated by personal relationships with other people, relationships that in turn reach perfection thanks to the commitment made to improve the world, in justice and peace. Human activity in history is of itself significant and effective for the definitive establishment of the Kingdom, although this remains a free gift of God, completely transcendent. Such activity, when it respects the objective order of temporal reality and is enlightened by truth and love, becomes an instrument for making justice and peace ever more fully and integrally present, and anticipates in our own day the promised Kingdom.
Conforming himself to Christ the Redeemer, man perceives himself as a creature willed by God and eternally chosen by him, called to grace and glory in all the fullness of the mystery in which he has become a sharer in Jesus Christ . Being conformed to Christ and contemplating his face  instil in Christians an irrepressible longing for a foretaste in this world, in the context of human relationships, of what will be a reality in the definitive world to come; thus Christians strive to give food, drink, clothing, shelter, care, a welcome and company to the Lord who knocks at the door cf.
Heir to the hope of the righteous in Israel and first among the disciples of Jesus Christ is Mary, his Mother. Lk , in the name of all humanity, she accepts in history the One sent by the Father, the Saviour of mankind. Is ; The God of the Covenant, whom the Virgin of Nazareth praises in song as her spirit rejoices, is the One who casts down the mighty from their thrones and raises up the lowly, fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty, scatters the proud and shows mercy to those who fear him cf.
Lk Mary is totally dependent upon God and completely directed towards him by the impetus of her faith. The Church, God's dwelling place with men and women. The Church, sharing in mankind's joys and hopes, in its anxieties and sadness, stands with every man and woman of every place and time, to bring them the good news of the Kingdom of God, which in Jesus Christ has come and continues to be present among them. In the midst of mankind and in the world she is the sacrament of God's love and, therefore, of the most splendid hope, which inspires and sustains every authentic undertaking for and commitment to human liberation and advancement.
Rev , so that man is not alone, lost or frightened in his task of making the world more human; thus men and women find support in the redeeming love of Christ. As minister of salvation, the Church is not in the abstract nor in a merely spiritual dimension, but in the context of the history and of the world in which man lives. Here mankind is met by God's love and by the vocation to cooperate in the divine plan. Unique and unrepeatable in his individuality, every person is a being who is open to relationships with others in society. Life together in society, in the network of relationships linking individuals, families and intermediate groups by encounter, communication and exchange, ensures a higher quality of living.
The common good that people seek and attain in the formation of social communities is the guarantee of their personal, familial and associative good. These are the reasons for which society originates and takes shape, with its array of structures, that is to say its political, economic, juridical and cultural constructs. As an expert in humanity, she is able to understand man in his vocation and aspirations, in his limits and misgivings, in his rights and duties, and to speak a word of life that reverberates in the historical and social circumstances of human existence.
Enriching and permeating society with the Gospel. With her social teaching the Church seeks to proclaim the Gospel and make it present in the complex network of social relations. It is not simply a matter of reaching out to man in society — man as the recipient of the proclamation of the Gospel — but of enriching and permeating society itself with the Gospel . For the Church, therefore, tending to the needs of man means that she also involves society in her missionary and salvific work. The way people live together in society often determines the quality of life and therefore the conditions in which every man and woman understand themselves and make decisions concerning themselves and their vocation.
For this reason, the Church is not indifferent to what is decided, brought about or experienced in society; she is attentive to the moral quality — that is, the authentically human and humanizing aspects — of social life. Society — and with it, politics, the economy, labour, law, culture — is not simply a secular and worldly reality, and therefore outside or foreign to the message and economy of salvation.
Society in fact, with all that is accomplished within it, concerns man. By means of her social doctrine, the Church takes on the task of proclaiming what the Lord has entrusted to her. She makes the message of the freedom and redemption wrought by Christ, the Gospel of the Kingdom, present in human history. As the Gospel reverberates by means of the Church in the today of men and women, this social doctrine is a word that brings freedom. This means that it has the effectiveness of truth and grace that comes from the Spirit of God, who penetrates hearts, predisposing them to thoughts and designs of love, justice, freedom and peace.
Evangelizing the social sector, then, means infusing into the human heart the power of meaning and freedom found in the Gospel, in order to promote a society befitting mankind because it befits Christ: it means building a city of man that is more human because it is in greater conformity with the Kingdom of God.
With her social doctrine not only does the Church not stray from her mission but she is rigorously faithful to it. The redemption wrought by Christ and entrusted to the saving mission of the Church is certainly of the supernatural order. This dimension is not a delimitation of salvation but rather an integral expression of it. The supernatural is not to be understood as an entity or a place that begins where the natural ends, but as the raising of the natural to a higher plane.
In this way nothing of the created or the human order is foreign to or excluded from the supernatural or theological order of faith and grace, rather it is found within it, taken on and elevated by it. Rom — recovers again its original link with the divine source of Wisdom and Love.
As this link was broken in the man Adam, so in the Man Christ it was reforged cf. Redemption begins with the Incarnation, by which the Son of God takes on all that is human, except sin, according to the solidarity established by the wisdom of the Divine Creator, and embraces everything in his gift of redeeming Love. Man is touched by this Love in the fullness of his being: a being that is corporeal and spiritual, that is in a solidary relationship with others.
The whole man — not a detached soul or a being closed within its own individuality, but a person and a society of persons — is involved in the salvific economy of the Gospel. This is especially true in times such as the present, marked by increasing interdependence and globalization of social issues.
Social doctrine, evangelization and human promotion. The Church's social doctrine is an integral part of her evangelizing ministry. Nothing that concerns the community of men and women — situations and problems regarding justice, freedom, development, relations between peoples, peace — is foreign to evangelization, and evangelization would be incomplete if it did not take into account the mutual demands continually made by the Gospel and by the concrete, personal and social life of man.
They also include links in the theological order, since one cannot disassociate the plan of creation from the plan of Redemption. The latter plan touches the very concrete situations of injustice to be combated and of justice to be restored. They include links of the eminently evangelical order, which is that of charity: how in fact can one proclaim the new commandment without promoting in justice and in peace the true, authentic advancement of man?
Understood in this way, this social doctrine is a distinctive way for the Church to carry out her ministry of the Word and her prophetic role. This is a ministry that stems not only from proclamation but also from witness. This means that the Church does not intervene in technical questions with her social doctrine, nor does she propose or establish systems or models of social organization. This is not part of the mission entrusted to her by Christ.
The Church's competence comes from the Gospel: from the message that sets man free, the message proclaimed and borne witness to by the Son of God made man.
This is her primary and sole purpose. There is no intention to usurp or invade the duties of others or to neglect her own; nor is there any thought of pursuing objectives that are foreign to her mission.
This mission serves to give an overall shape to the Church's right and at the same time her duty to develop a social doctrine of her own and to influence society and societal structures with it by means of the responsibility and tasks to which it gives rise. The Church has the right to be a teacher for mankind, a teacher of the truth of faith: the truth not only of dogmas but also of the morals whose source lies in human nature itself and in the Gospel .
The word of the Gospel, in fact, is not only to be heard but is also to be observed and put into practice cf. Mt ; Lk ; Jn ,; Jas Consistency in behaviour shows what one truly believes and is not limited only to things strictly church-related or spiritual but involves men and women in the entirety of their life experience and in the context of all their responsibilities. However worldly these responsibilities may be, their subject remains man, that is, the human being whom God calls, by means of the Church, to participate in his gift of salvation. Men and women must respond to the gift of salvation not with a partial, abstract or merely verbal acceptance, but with the whole of their lives — in every relationship that defines life — so as not to neglect anything, leaving it in a profane and worldly realm where it is irrelevant or foreign to salvation.
For this reason the Church's social doctrine is not a privilege for her, nor a digression, a convenience or interference: it is her right to proclaim the Gospel in the context of society , to make the liberating word of the Gospel resound in the complex worlds of production, labour, business, finance, trade, politics, law, culture, social communications, where men and women live. The warning that St. Knowledge illuminated by faith.
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The Church's social doctrine was not initially thought of as an organic system but was formed over the course of time, through the numerous interventions of the Magisterium on social issues. The fact that it came about in this manner makes it understandable that certain changes may have taken place with regard to its nature, method and epistemological structure. It cannot be defined according to socio-economic parameters. It is not an ideological or pragmatic system intended to define and generate economic, political and social relationships, but is a category unto itself.
In fact, this social doctrine reflects three levels of theological-moral teaching: the foundational level of motivations; the directive level of norms for life in society; the deliberative level of consciences, called to mediate objective and general norms in concrete and particular social situations. These three levels implicitly define also the proper method and specific epistemological structure of the social doctrine of the Church.
The Church's social doctrine finds its essential foundation in biblical revelation and in the tradition of the Church. From this source, which comes from above, it draws inspiration and light to understand, judge and guide human experience and history. Before anything else and above everything else is God's plan for the created world and, in particular, for the life and destiny of men and women, called to Trinitarian communion.
Faith, which receives the divine word and puts it into practice, effectively interacts with reason. The understanding of faith, especially faith leading to practical action, is structured by reason and makes use of every contribution that reason has to offer. Faith and reason represent the two cognitive paths of the Church's social doctrine: Revelation and human nature. This understanding of faith includes reason, by means of which — insofar as possible — it unravels and comprehends revealed truth and integrates it with the truth of human nature, found in the divine plan expressed in creation.
This is the integral truth of the human person as a spiritual and corporeal being, in relationship with God, with other human beings and with other creatures. Being centred on the mystery of Christ, moreover, does not weaken or exclude the role of reason and hence does not deprive the Church's social doctrine of rationality or, therefore, of universal applicability. Since the mystery of Christ illuminates the mystery of man, it gives fullness of meaning to human dignity and to the ethical requirements which defend it. The Church's social doctrine is knowledge enlightened by faith, which, as such, is the expression of a greater capacity for knowledge.
It explains to all people the truths that it affirms and the duties that it demands; it can be accepted and shared by all. In friendly dialogue with all branches of knowledge. The Church's social doctrine avails itself of contributions from all branches of knowledge, whatever their source, and has an important interdisciplinary dimension.
The social doctrine makes use of the significant contributions of philosophy as well as the descriptive contributions of the human sciences. Above all, the contribution of philosophy is essential. This contribution has already been seen in the appeal to human nature as a source and to reason as the cognitive path of faith itself. By means of reason, the Church's social doctrine espouses philosophy in its own internal logic, in other words, in the argumentation that is proper to it. Affirming that the Church's social doctrine is part of theology rather than philosophy does not imply a disowning or underestimation of the role or contribution of philosophy.
In fact, philosophy is a suitable and indispensable instrument for arriving at a correct understanding of the basic concepts of the Church's social doctrine , concepts such as the person, society, freedom, conscience, ethics, law, justice, the common good, solidarity, subsidiarity, the State. This understanding is such that it inspires harmonious living in society.
It is philosophy once more that shows the reasonableness and acceptability of shining the light of the Gospel on society, and that inspires in every mind and conscience openness and assent to the truth. A significant contribution to the Church's social doctrine comes also from human sciences and the social sciences. In view of that particular part of the truth that it may reveal, no branch of knowledge is excluded.
The Church recognizes and receives everything that contributes to the understanding of man in the ever broader, more fluid and more complex net work of his social relationships. She is aware of the fact that a profound understanding of man does not come from theology alone, without the contributions of many branches of knowledge to which theology itself refers.
This attentive and constant openness to other branches of knowledge makes the Church's social doctrine reliable, concrete and relevant. Thanks to the sciences, the Church can gain a more precise understanding of man in society, speak to the men and women of her own day in a more convincing manner and more effectively fulfil her task of incarnating in the conscience and social responsibility of our time, the word of God and the faith from which social doctrine flows. An expression of the Church's ministry of teaching.
The social doctrine belongs to the Church because the Church is the subject that formulates it, disseminates it and teaches it. It is not a prerogative of a certain component of the ecclesial body but of the entire community; it is the expression of the way that the Church understands society and of her position regarding social structures and changes. The whole of the Church community — priests, religious and laity — participates in the formulation of this social doctrine, each according to the different tasks, charisms and ministries found within her.
The Church's social doctrine is not only the thought or work of qualified persons, but is the thought of the Church, insofar as it is the work of the Magisterium, which teaches with the authority that Christ conferred on the Apostles and their successors: the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him. In the Church's social doctrine the Magisterium is at work in all its various components and expressions. Of primary importance is the universal Magisterium of the Pope and the Council: this is the Magisterium that determines the direction and gives marks of the development of this social doctrine.
This doctrine in turn is integrated into the Magisterium of the Bishops who, in the concrete and particular situations of the many different local circumstances, give precise definition to this teaching, translating it and putting it into practice. The social teaching of the Bishops offers valid contributions and impetus to the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff. In this way, there is a circulating at work that in fact expresses the collegiality of the Church's Pastors united to the Pope in the Church's social teaching. The doctrinal body that emerges includes and integrates in this fashion the universal teaching of the Popes and the particular teaching of the Bishops.
Insofar as it is part of the Church's moral teaching, the Church's social doctrine has the same dignity and authority as her moral teaching. It is authentic Magisterium , which obligates the faithful to adhere to it. The doctrinal weight of the different teachings and the assent required are determined by the nature of the particular teachings, by their level of independence from contingent and variable elements, and by the frequency with which they are invoked.
For a society reconciled in justice and love. The object of the Church's social doctrine is essentially the same that constitutes the reason for its existence: the human person called to salvation, and as such entrusted by Christ to the Church's care and responsibility . By means of her social doctrine, the Church shows her concern for human life in society, aware that the quality of social life — that is, of the relationships of justice and love that form the fabric of society — depends in a decisive manner on the protection and promotion of the human person, for whom every community comes into existence.
In fact, at play in society are the dignity and rights of the person, and peace in the relationships between persons and between communities of persons. These are goods that the social community must pursue and guarantee. In this perspective, the Church's social doctrine has the task of proclamation , but also of denunciation. This is done not only on the level of principles but also in practice.
The Church's social doctrine, in fact, offers not only meaning, value and criteria of judgment, but also the norms and directives of action that arise from these. With her social doctrine the Church does not attempt to structure or organize society, but to appeal to, guide and form consciences. This social doctrine also entails a duty to denounce , when sin is present: the sin of injustice and violence that in different ways moves through society and is embodied in it.
By denunciation, the Church's social doctrine becomes judge and defender of unrecognized and violated rights, especially those of the poor, the least and the weak. The more these rights are ignored or trampled, the greater becomes the extent of violence and injustice, involving entire categories of people and large geographical areas of the world, thus giving rise to social questions , that is, to abuses and imbalances that lead to social upheaval.
A large part of the Church's social teaching is solicited and determined by important social questions, to which social justice is the proper answer. The intent of the Church's social doctrine is of the religious and moral order . A message for the sons and daughters of the Church and for humanity.
The first recipient of the Church's social doctrine is the Church community in its entire membership, because everyone has social responsibilities that must be fulfilled. The conscience is called by this social teaching to recognize and fulfil the obligations of justice and charity in society. This doctrine is a light of moral truth that inspires appropriate responses according to the vocation and ministry of each Christian. In the tasks of evangelization, that is to say, of teaching, catechesis and formation that the Church's social doctrine inspires, it is addressed to every Christian, each according to the competence, charisms, office and mission of proclamation that is proper to each one.
This social doctrine implies as well responsibilities regarding the building, organization and functioning of society, that is to say, political, economic and administrative obligations — obligations of a secular nature — which belong to the lay faithful, not to priests or religious. These responsibilities belong to the laity in a distinctive manner, by reason of the secular condition of their state of life, and of the secular nature of their vocation.
By fulfilling these responsibilities, the lay faithful put the Church's social teaching into action and thus fulfil the Church's secular mission. Besides being destined primarily and specifically to the sons and daughters of the Church, her social doctrine also has a universal destination. The light of the Gospel that the Church's social doctrine shines on society illuminates all men and women, and every conscience and mind is in a position to grasp the human depths of meaning and values expressed in it and the potential of humanity and humanization contained in its norms of action.
It is to all people — in the name of mankind, of human dignity which is one and unique, and of humanity's care and promotion of society — to everyone in the name of the one God, Creator and ultimate end of man, that the Church's social doctrine is addressed. This social doctrine is a teaching explicitly addressed to all people of good will , and in fact is heard by members of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, by followers of other religious traditions and by people who belong to no religious group.
Guided by the perennial light of the Gospel and ever attentive to evolution of society, the Church's social doctrine is characterized by continuity and renewal . It shows above all the continuity of a teaching that refers to the universal values drawn from Revelation and human nature. This is the foundational and permanent nucleus of the Church's social doctrine, by which it moves through history without being conditioned by history or running the risk of fading away.
On the other hand, in its constant turning to history and in engaging the events taking place, the Church's social doctrine shows a capacity for continuous renewal. Standing firm in its principles does not make it a rigid teaching system, but a Magisterium capable of opening itself to new things , without having its nature altered by them. Faith does not presume to confine changeable social and political realities within a closed framework. Rather, the contrary is true: faith is the leaven of innovation and creativity.
Mother and Teacher, the Church does not close herself off nor retreat within herself but is always open, reaching out to and turned towards man, whose destiny of salvation is her reason for being. She is in the midst of men and women as the living icon of the Good Shepherd, who goes in search of and finds man where he is, in the existential and historical circumstances of his life. It is there that the Church becomes for man a point of contact with the Gospel, with the message of liberation and reconciliation, of justice and peace. The beginning of a new path.
The Church's concern for social matters certainly did not begin with that document, for the Church has never failed to show interest in society. Nonetheless, the Encyclical Letter Rerum Novarum marks the beginning of a new path. Grafting itself onto a tradition hundreds of years old, it signals a new beginning and a singular development of the Church's teaching in the area of social matters. In her continuous attention to men and women living in society, the Church has accumulated a rich doctrinal heritage.
This has its roots in Sacred Scripture, especially the Gospels and the apostolic writings, and takes on shape and body beginning from the Fathers of the Church and the great Doctors of the Middle Ages, constituting a doctrine in which, even without explicit and direct Magisterial pronouncements, the Church gradually came to recognize her competence.
In the nineteenth century, events of an economic nature produced a dramatic social, political and cultural impact. Events connected with the Industrial Revolution profoundly changed centuries-old societal structures, raising serious problems of justice and posing the first great social question — the labour question — prompted by the conflict between capital and labour.
A new discernment of the situation was needed, a discernment capable of finding appropriate solutions to unfamiliar and unexplored problems. From Rerum Novarum to our own day. This Encyclical examines the condition of salaried workers, which was particularly distressing for industrial labourers who languished in inhumane misery. The labour question is dealt with according to its true dimensions.
It is explored in all its social and political expressions so that a proper evaluation may be made in the light of the doctrinal principles founded on Revelation and on natural law and morality. Rerum Novarum became the document inspiring Christian activity in the social sphere and the point of reference for this activity . The Encyclical's central theme is the just ordering of society, in view of which there is the obligation to identify criteria of judgment that will help to evaluate existing socio-political systems and to suggest lines of action for their appropriate transformation.
The principles affirmed by Pope Leo XIII would be taken up again and studied more deeply in successive social encyclicals. The whole of the Church's social doctrine can be seen as an updating, a deeper analysis and an expansion of the original nucleus of principles presented in Rerum Novarum. At the beginning of the s, following the grave economic crisis of , Pope Pius XI published the Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno , commemorating the fortieth anniversary of Rerum Novarum.
The Pope reread the past in the light of the economic and social situation in which the expansion of the influence of financial groups, both nationally and internationally, was added to the effects of industrialization. It was the post-war period, during which totalitarian regimes were being imposed in Europe even as the class struggle was becoming more bitter. The Encyclical warns about the failure to respect the freedom to form associations and stresses the principles of solidarity and cooperation in order to overcome social contradictions.
The relationships between capital and labour must be characterized by cooperation. Quadragesimo Anno confirms the principle that salaries should be proportional not only to the needs of the worker but also to those of the worker's family. The State, in its relations with the private sector, should apply the principle of subsidiarity , a principle that will become a permanent element of the Church's social doctrine.
The Encyclical rejects liberalism, understood as unlimited competition between economic forces, and reconfirms the value of private property, recalling its social function. Pope Pius XI did not fail to raise his voice against the totalitarian regimes that were being imposed in Europe during his pontificate. Already on 29 June he had protested against the abuse of power by the totalitarian fascist regime in Italy with the Encyclical Non Abbiamo Bisogno .
The text of Mit Brennender Sorge was read from the pulpit of every Catholic Church in Germany, after having been distributed in the greatest of secrecy. The Encyclical came out after years of abuse and violence, and it had been expressly requested from Pope Pius XI by the German Bishops after the Reich had implemented ever more coercive and repressive measures in , particularly with regard to young people, who were required to enrol as members of the Hitler Youth Movement.
The Pope spoke directly to priests, religious and lay faithful, giving them encouragement and calling them to resistance until such time that a true peace between Church and State would be restored. In the Christmas Radio Messages of Pope Pius XII, together with other important interventions in social matters, Magisterial reflection on a new social order guided by morality and law, and focusing on justice and peace, become deeper.
His pontificate covered the terrible years of the Second World War and the difficult years of reconstruction. He published no social encyclicals but in many different contexts he constantly showed his concern for the international order, which had been badly shaken. One of the characteristics of Pope Pius XII's interventions is the importance he gave to the relationship between morality and law. He insisted on the notion of natural law as the soul of the system to be established on both the national and the international levels. Another important aspect of Pope Pius XII's teaching was his attention to the professional and business classes, called to work together in a special way for the attainment of the common good.
The s bring promising prospects: recovery after the devastation of the war, the beginning of decolonization, and the first timid signs of a thaw in the relations between the American and Soviet blocs. The social question is becoming universal and involves all countries : together with the labour question and the Industrial Revolution, there come to the fore problems of agriculture, of developing regions, of increasing populations, and those concerning the need for global economic cooperation.
Inequalities that in the past were experienced within nations are now becoming international and make the dramatic situation of the Third World ever more evident. The key words in the Encyclical are community and socialization : the Church is called in truth, justice and love to cooperate in building with all men and women an authentic communion.
In this way economic growth will not be limited to satisfying men's needs, but it will also promote their dignity. Moreover, Pacem in Terris contains one of the first in-depth reflections on rights on the part of the Church; it is the Encyclical of peace and human dignity. It continues and completes the discussion presented in Mater et Magistra , and, continuing in the direction indicated by Pope Leo XIII, it emphasizes the importance of the cooperation of all men and women.
On the tenth anniversary of Pacem in Terris , Cardinal Maurice Roy, the President of the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace, sent Pope Paul VI a letter together with a document with a series of reflections on the different possibilities afforded by the teaching contained in Pope John XXIII's Encyclical for shedding light on the new problems connected with the promotion of peace. The Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes  of the Second Vatican Council is a significant response of the Church to the expectations of the contemporary world.