On the positive side, we've seen an upsurge in community organizing and activism worldwide, from the "Arab Spring" revolutions, to the Occupy movement. The former has not fully realized the goal of justice, but has moved in that direction, with the fall of dictators and the rise of democratic elections. The latter has resulted in consciousness-raising, but few concrete steps toward justice...at least as of yet.
That points to the negative side - it is still true that the majority of power and resources are in the hands of a small group of people...a group that is largely wealthy, White, and male. The Republican primaries are an excellent illustration of that (with the big concession to diversity being Romney's Mormon faith). While there is slightly more racial and gender diversity in the Senate and House of Representatives, our politicians tend to be uniformly wealthy. The degree to which they are out of touch with the rest of the population is clear in the stalemate they've created through petty refusals to compromise, and the resulting all-time low approval rating on 9%.
A part of the mission and responsibility of social work is to advocate for the needs and rights of our clients, many (if not most) of whom face unequal treatment as a result of race, class, or (dis)ability. Mental illness still carries a heavy stigma, and our health insurance structure is more geared toward denying care than providing it. We fight an up-hill battle to get our clients' needs met - needs for treatment, as well as more basic needs (e.g., food, shelter, safety, transportation) that may otherwise create barriers to treatment.
How do you approach this challenge in your work? How do you think about your role as an advocate for justice?