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The Discourse Surrounding ‘Fairness’ and the Fair City Index for Seoul

Kwonjoong ChohㆍJiwon Choi

The discourse on fairness has emerged periodically during times of increasing social inequality and has become a major policy concern. Fairness-enforcing policies have been steadily studied over the years, but more recently, societal values related to social inequality are being more closely re-examined. In particular, there has been increased attention on the large differences in the perceptions of fairness between those of different genders and generations. Overall, differences in values and views surrounding fairness are a source of social conflict.
The discourse on fairness is pluralistic and exhibits multi-layered characteristics, emphasizing how the concept of fairness is often not easily agreed upon. In most situations, a specific definition of fairness is influenced by the time period, and also tends to be link with or overlap with other public values. In many areas of public policy, the meaning of fairness is often raised in relation to opportunities, preconditions, processes, performances, and evaluations. The concept of fairness is linked to or used interchangeably with other values of public policy, such as trust, openness, transparency, accountability, in addition to equality, equity, justice, and fairness. In the everyday field, the negative expression of ‘unfairness,' rather than the definition of fairness itself is becoming the standard for the normative evaluation of a system’s operation and results. It is used as a weapon of criticism and indicates an expression of injustice.
This study aims to identify the framing characteristics of the fairness discourse, where the concept of fairness has become a topic of social conflict once again, and to examine the state of urban society in Seoul from the perspective of its manifestation of fairness. Specifically, I would like to propose an indicator of fairness in Seoul and clarify the reality of Seoul citizens’ current perceptions of fairness.
Fairness is becoming a core value of government policy and urban society despite the gaps in equality which continue to persist due to changes in times and the perception gaps of citizens. From the concept of fairness, the direction of urban development in Seoul should be thoroughly evaluated and adjusted. Now, the urban policy framework of a “Fair Seoul”, which citizens entrust the city government to implement, must be emphasized.