Definition of Inequality
Types of Inequality
- class inequality
- gender inequality
- global inequality
- physical inequality
- racial inequality
- American English – /in-i-kwAHl-uh-tee/
- British English – /in-i-kwOl-i-tee/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /ˈɪniˈkwɑləti/
- British English – /ɪnɪˈkwɒlɪti/
- Plural: inequalities
- “[A]lthough true equality of opportunity is probably not possible, the myth of meritocracy in America is itself harmful because its legitimation of inequalities of power and privilege rests on claims that are demonstrably false” (McNamee and Miller 2013:19).
- “Feminism explicitly examines women’s roles and experiences in society, working to fully uncover women’s contributions to social life and the nature of the structures and processes that maintain gender inequality” (Hughes and Kroehler 2008:17).
- “If the rights and perquisites of different positions in a society must be unequal, then the society must be stratified, because that is precisely what stratification means. Social inequality is thus an unconsciously evolved device by which societies insure that the most important positions are conscientiously filled by the most qualified persons. Hence every society, no matter how simple or complex, must differentiate persons in terms of both prestige and esteem, and must therefore possess a certain amount of institutionalized inequality” (Davis and Moore 1945:243).
- “In 1945 Davis and Moore, following an earlier formulation by Davis, proposed a functional theory of stratification that was intended to account for what they contended was the “universal necessity” for social inequality in any social order. Beginning with an article by [Melvin] Tumin in 1953, the Davis-Moore theory elicited regular analysis, commentary, criticism, and debate through the 1970s. Although professional work on the theory has largely ceased since the late 1980s, the Davis-Moore theory remains perhaps the single most widely cited paper in American introductory sociology and stratification textbooks and constitutes “required reading” in hundreds, if not thousands, of undergraduate and graduate courses throughout the United States” (Hauhart 2003:5).
- “Social stratification is universal but variable. Social stratification is found everywhere. Yet what is unequal and how unequal it is varies from one society to another. In some societies, inequality is mostly a matter of prestige; in others, wealth or power is the key element of difference. In addition, some societies contain more inequality than others” (Macionis 2012:225).
- “Some bureaucracies perpetuate inequalities of race, class, and gender because this form of organizational structure creates a specific type of work or learning environment. This structure was typically created for middle- and upper-middle-class white men, who for many years were the predominant organizational participants” (Kendall 2011:194).
- “To enforce its power and sustain its privileges, the dominant ethnic group employs certain tools, which can be subsumed under the categories of prejudice and discrimination. Widely held beliefs and values regarding the character and capacities of particular groups are necessary to assure the long-range durability of ethnic inequality. These beliefs and values take the form of prejudices, that is, negative ideas expressing the superiority of the dominant groups” (Marger 1985:45).
- “[W]hat schools do ideologically, culturally, and economically is very complicated and cannot be fully understood by the application of any simple formula. There are very strong connections between the formal and informal knowledge within the school and the larger society with all its inequalities. But since the pressures and demands of dominant groups are highly mediated by the internal histories of educational institutions and by the needs and ideologies of people who actually work in them, the aims and results will often be contradictory as well” (Apple 1990:x–xi).
- Word origin of “inequality” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Kerbo, Harold Ray. 2012. Social Stratification and Inequality: Class Conflict in Historical, Comparative, and Global Perspective. 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. 1848. The Communist Manifesto.
- Massey, Douglas S. 2007. Categorically Unequal: The American Stratification System. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
- Mills, C. Wright. 1956. The Power Elite. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Mosca, Gaetano.  1939. The Ruling Class. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Sun, Wanning, and Yingjie Guo, eds. 2013. Unequal China: The Political Economy and Cultural Politics of Inequality. London: Routledge.
Apple, Michael W. 1990. Ideology and Curriculum. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.
Note: Read for free at the Open Libary.
Davis, Kingsley, and Wilbert E. Moore. 1945. “Some Principles of Stratification.” American Sociological Review 10(2):242–49. doi:10.2307/2085643.
Hauhart, Robert C. 2003. “The Davis-Moore theory of Stratification: The Life Course of a Socially Constructed Classic.” The American Sociologist 34(4):5–24. doi:10.1007/s12108-003-1013-y.
Hughes, Michael, and Carolyn J. Kroehler. 2008. Sociology: The Core. 8th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Kendall, Diana. 2011. Sociology in Our Times. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Macionis, John. 2012. Sociology. 14th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
Marger, Martin. 1985. Race and Ethnic Relations: American and Global Perspectives. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
McNamee, Stephen J., and Robert K. Miller, Jr. 2013. The Meritocracy Myth. 3rd ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
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Bruce, Steve, and Steven Yearley. 2006. The SAGE Dictionary of Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Dillon, Michele. 2014. Introduction to Sociological Theory: Theorists, Concepts, and their Applicability to the Twenty-First Century. 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
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Kornblum, William. 2008. Sociology in a Changing World. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
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Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall. 2005. A Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.
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ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2018. “inequality.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved August 4, 2021 (https://sociologydictionary.org/inequality/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
inequality. (2018). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/inequality/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2018. “inequality.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed August 4, 2021. https://sociologydictionary.org/inequality/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“inequality.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2018. Web. 4 Aug. 2021. <https://sociologydictionary.org/inequality/>.