Representation of Social Justice in Arts

Social Justice in Creative Works


In most cases, matters of social justice entail advocacy of laws that enforce similar treatment to all people. Outspoken people have expressed their views on social justice by using literature as a tool to bring into attention issues related to environment and politics. Regarding the weight of such issues in the society, Mark Hamilton Lytle writes about the story of Rachel Carson, an environmentalist who wrote The Silent Spring with the goal of addressing the use of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) insecticides and their effects on the environment. Another creative work by Catherine Ming, in the form of community-based theatre, addresses the farm workers and family farmers in the Of farms and Fables. A keen review of the two sources provides a deeper insight into how the theme of social justice may be explored via an analysis of the creative and performing arts.

The Gentle Subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and the Rise of the Environmental Movement

Mark Lytle writes about Rachael Carson forty years later after she came out strongly critiquing the corporate world of agriculture as well as the United States Department of Agriculture on the use of DDT. Although the relevant authorities assured the public that the group of pesticides posed no threat to the health of human beings, she built a strong case against the use of the chemical. She accused the agricultural experts and scientists of subjecting the nature as well as humans to chemical sprays that were toxic. Carson stated that the methods of controlling insects should not destroy human beings together with the insects.

Carson’s work came out at a time when America was dominantly a patriarchal society, which was faced by hostility from many sources. She was criticized for advocating for diseases and vermin on the planet. Others such as George Decker, an entomologist who was an economist, saw her as unqualified to bring out such remarks and the readers were neither supposed to access such information. Her work was regarded as science fiction by the then Secretary of Agriculture, Ezra Benson who wondered how a spinster without a child would be worried about a pesticide that would affect future generations.

Carson maintained her argument in the detrimental effects of the DDTs with composure and dignity. Before, she met her death in 1964; she was able to hear the report by the science advisory committee commissioned by the then president of the US, John F. Kennedy. The committee validated her allegations that indeed there were persistent DDT residues in the environment. This report was the basis for millions of Americans to come out on the streets to celebrate Earth Day, seven years later after the committee’s report in the pursuit of Carson’s dream.

Farms And Fables: Cultivating Difference In Community-Based Theatre

The creation of this work comes in collaboration with the farm workers and family farmers through embodied research to bring out a picture of the local agriculture in the community. The theatre work takes the artists to act as farm workers to tell a story of the differences in the community. In the work, actors participate in community-based acting where they interact with the local farm workers at Maine to understand their culture and bring it into a play.
In the course of interaction between the real workers and the actors the intention of the engagement is realized: the issues affecting the farm workers. The theatre production company realizes that the social issues affecting these farmers at Maine are majorly the uncertainty to hold the ownership of the farms they till. Within the play, a narration is given about two farms. One of the farms is owned by a family that has been cultivating it for generations while the other one belongs to a family which is both new to Maine as well as farming. The first farmer laments on how to maintain his family upkeep while faced by an increasing debt while the second farmer struggles to adapt to the new environment.

Thought the play, the two farmers depict a repetitive endurance in their labor as well as other issues being faced by migrant farmers. Different storylines are drawn by interspersed movements within groups that show various activities in the farms such as seed planting and vegetable harvesting. The play is staged in Scarborough, Maine in a historic barn named Camp Ketcha where the actors comprise of the professionals as well as the community. At the end of the play, the audience is left with a clear picture of how farm workers toil in their farms as well as their fears due to unprecedented uncertainties.


The two creative works are effective in shedding more light into the issue of social justice from the environmental perspective. They take the audience back to real life situations that occur everyday lives. Notably, the works are crafted in a manner that enables the readers to relate to the authors and the characters. In the first literature work, although inspired by another author’s story, it is evident that women face various challenges in men dominated social setups. Although Carson has a valid point that is supported by science, being a woman makes her hostility. Through perseverance, her argument is validated and it leads to the formation of a movement to safeguard the environment. In the second creative work, the farmers’ plight is brought into light by the play in a quest for the government to address their issues.

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