Student review: Debating Social Rights

November 3, 2011

Authors: Conor Gearty and Virginia Mantouvalou

Edition: First

Publisher: Hart

Pages: 201

Price: £15.00

ISBN 9781849460231

Debating Social Rights is part of Hart's Debating Law series, edited by Peter Cane, which offers scholarly experts the opportunity to present contrasting perspectives on significant topics of contemporary, general interest. In this volume, Conor Gearty and Virginia Mantouvalou debate the legal enforcement of socio-economic entitlements. The authors take opposing sides in the debate over whether it is appropriate for government to ensure social rights.

The main aim of the text is to provide the reader with an introduction to the theoretical debate of social rights, and it is exceedingly successful in doing so. The authors' discussions focus on how best to give effect to social rights. The debate concerning the status of social rights - in comparison with civil and political rights - in the hierarchy of human rights generations is adeptly accentuated. The authors stress that individuals do not see themselves as compelled to promote or even enforce social rights, whereas those accused of violating civil or political rights are quick to deny any violations.

The book's innovative format presents the reader with two different views on the topic and, accordingly, it is divided into two sections. In the first, Gearty argues for human rights dialogue to work effectively in order to promote social justice. Opposing judicial enforcement, he asks why we should care, how we should care, and how we can "tame the lawyers". He painstakingly highlights the important role of rights language in the debate and acknowledges that human rights are not exclusively civil and political but are also social rights, which have progressive and emancipatory attributes.

In the second section, Mantouvalou maintains that social rights are intrinsic to the well-being of individuals and the community as a whole. In support of the legalisation of social rights, she considers its brief and unhappy history, its common foundations, the content of duties and horizontality, and social rights and foreign nationals in need. She illustratively examines the role of the courts and of legislators around the world in support of her argument in favour of creating legislation to give effect to social rights.

This text offers an important and informative contribution to the field of social rights within the realm of human rights. The authors navigate the various national and regional institutions in their endeavour to highlight the significance of these rights.

Who is it for? Suitable for all human rights students, and essential reading for postgraduates in the field.

Presentation: Skilfully written in a clear and eloquent manner.

Would you recommend it? Yes, unreservedly. This book provides an insight into an area of human rights that is markedly under-researched by academics.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree
men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

A group of flamingos and a Marabou stork

A right-wing philosopher in Texas tells John Gill how a minority of students can shut down debates and intimidate lecturers – and why he backs Trump

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes