Social equality
Social equality is a social
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

 state of affairs in which all people within a specific society or isolated group have the same status in a certain respect. At the very least, social equality includes equal rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 under the law, such as security
Security is the degree of protection against danger, damage, loss, and crime. Security as a form of protection are structures and processes that provide or improve security as a condition. The Institute for Security and Open Methodologies in the OSSTMM 3 defines security as "a form of protection...

, voting rights, freedom of speech
Freedom of speech
Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used...

 and assembly, and the extent of property rights. However, it also includes concepts of economic equity
Equity (economics)
Equity is the concept or idea of fairness in economics, particularly as to taxation or welfare economics. More specifically it may refer to equal life chances regardless of identity, to provide all citizens with a basic minimum of income/goods/services or to increase funds and commitment for...

, i.e. access to education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

, health care
Health care
Health care is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans. Health care is delivered by practitioners in medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, allied health, and other care providers...

 and other social securities. It also includes equal opportunities and obligations, and so involves the whole of society.

Social equality requires the absence of legally enforced social class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

 or caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

 boundaries and the absence of unjustified discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

 motivated by an inalienable part of a person's identity. For example, gender, race, age, sexual orientation, origin, caste or class, income or property, language, religion, convictions, opinions, health or disability must not result in unequal treatment under the law and should not reduce opportunities unjustifiably.

Social equality refers to social, rather than economic, or income equality. "Equal opportunities" is interpreted as being judged by ability, which is compatible with a free-market economy. A problem is horizontal inequality
Horizontal inequality
Horizontal inequality is the inequality — economical, social or other — that does not follow from a difference in an inherent quality such as intelligence, attractiveness or skills for people or profitability for corporations. In sociology, this is particularly applicable to forced inequality...

, the inequality of two persons of same origin and ability.

Perfect social equality is an ideal situation that, for various reasons, does not exist in any society in the world today. The reasons for this are widely debated. Reasons cited for social inequality
Social inequality
Social inequality refers to a situation in which individual groups in a society do not have equal social status. Areas of potential social inequality include voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, the extent of property rights and access to education, health care, quality housing and other...

 commonly include economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, immigration
Immigration is the act of foreigners passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence...

Emigration is the act of leaving one's country or region to settle in another. It is the same as immigration but from the perspective of the country of origin. Human movement before the establishment of political boundaries or within one state is termed migration. There are many reasons why people...

, foreign politics
Foreign policy
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

 and national politics. Also, in complexity economics
Complexity economics
Complexity economics is the application of complexity science to the problems of economics. It studies computer simulations to gain insight into economic dynamics, and avoids the assumption that the economy is a system in equilibrium.- Models :...

, it has been found that horizontal inequality
Horizontal inequality
Horizontal inequality is the inequality — economical, social or other — that does not follow from a difference in an inherent quality such as intelligence, attractiveness or skills for people or profitability for corporations. In sociology, this is particularly applicable to forced inequality...

 arises in complex systems.

A counterexample to social equality was the social inequality of medieval Europe, where a person's estate
Estates of the realm
The Estates of the realm were the broad social orders of the hierarchically conceived society, recognized in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period in Christian Europe; they are sometimes distinguished as the three estates: the clergy, the nobility, and commoners, and are often referred to by...

, which was usually inherited, determined the legal and social rights the person had. For example, clergy could claim the benefit of clergy
Benefit of clergy
In English law, the benefit of clergy was originally a provision by which clergymen could claim that they were outside the jurisdiction of the secular courts and be tried instead in an ecclesiastical court under canon law...

 to receive a more lenient punishment for a crime. Likewise, women have historically been and still are in some countries formally denied access to higher education—even if they could pay the tuition. In 19th century Europe, if female enrollment was even permitted, women had to apply for an "exemption from gender" to enroll in a university.

In apartheid-era South Africa, both blacks and whites had formal access to health care and similar public services. However, the segregated health care arranged for blacks did not meet the same standards as those for whites. That is, there was enforced social inequality.

See also

  • Egalitarianism
    Egalitarianism is a trend of thought that favors equality of some sort among moral agents, whether persons or animals. Emphasis is placed upon the fact that equality contains the idea of equity of quality...

  • Equal opportunity
    Equal opportunity
    Equal opportunity, or equality of opportunity, is a controversial political concept; and an important informal decision-making standard without a precise definition involving fair choices within the public sphere...

  • Equality of outcome
    Equality of outcome
    Equality of outcome, equality of condition, or equality of results is a controversial political concept. Although it is not always clearly defined, it is usually taken to describe a state in which people have approximately the same material wealth or, more generally, in which the general conditions...

  • Leveling mechanism
    Leveling mechanism
    In cultural anthropology, a leveling mechanism is a practice that acts to ensure social equality, usually by shaming or humbling members of a group that attempt to put themselves above other members....

  • Rule according to higher law
    Rule according to higher law
    The rule according to a higher law means that no written law may be enforced by the government unless it conforms with certain unwritten, universal principles of fairness, morality, and justice...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.