Social inequality
Social inequality refers to a situation in which individual groups in a society do not have equal social status
Social status
In sociology or anthropology, social status is the honor or prestige attached to one's position in society . It may also refer to a rank or position that one holds in a group, for example son or daughter, playmate, pupil, etc....

. Areas of potential social inequality include 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, the extent of property rights and 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...

, quality housing
Housing inequality
Housing inequality refers to the differences in the quality of housing that exist within a given society. It has implications for the options available to an individual or family and tends to focus on the negative aspects of inequality...

 and other social goods. Apart from that it can also be seen in the quality of family and neighbourhood life, occupation, job satisfaction
Job satisfaction
Job satisfaction describes how content an individual is with his /her job. The happier people are within their job, the more satisfied they are said to be. Job satisfaction is not the same as motivation or aptitude, although it is clearly linked...

, and access to credit. If today these economic divisions harden, they can lead to social disadvantages. In a society, everyone should be equal, having access to certain minimum levels of social welfare, security and recognition regardless of their origin, individual positions, achievements, race, sex, etc.
Social inequality reflects the belief that deviance is not merely deviant personal behavior, but also, behavior that is committed against other individuals of society. Social inequality involves the belief that some individuals are socially defined as disadvantaged due to their life circumstances


The reasons for social inequality can vary, but are often broad and far reaching. Social inequalities exist between races, classes and countries. The results of such social inequalities can be seen around the globe in the history of all countries.

Social inequality is different from economic inequality
Economic inequality
Economic inequality comprises all disparities in the distribution of economic assets and income. The term typically refers to inequality among individuals and groups within a society, but can also refer to inequality among countries. The issue of economic inequality is related to the ideas of...

, though the two are linked. Economic inequality refers to disparities in the distribution of economic assets and income. While economic inequality is caused by the unequal accumulation of wealth
Wealth is the abundance of valuable resources or material possessions. The word wealth is derived from the old English wela, which is from an Indo-European word stem...

, social inequality exists because the lack of wealth in certain areas prohibits these people from obtaining the same housing, health care, etc. as the wealthy, in societies where access to these social goods depends on wealth.

Social inequality is linked to racial inequality, gender inequality
Gender inequality
Gender inequality refers to disparity between individuals due to gender. Gender is constructed both socially through social interactions as well as biologically through chromosomes, brain structure, and hormonal differences. Gender systems are often dichotomous and hierarchical; binary gender...

, and wealth inequality. The way people behave socially, through racism and other forms of discrimination, tends to trickle down and affect the opportunities and wealth individuals can generate for themselves. Thomas M. Shapiro
Thomas Shapiro
Thomas M. Shapiro is a professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Brandeis University and is the author The Hidden Cost of Being African American and the co-author of Black Wealth/White Wealth. Shapiro's current professional titles include the Pokross Professor of Law and Social Policy and the...

 presents a hypothetical example of this in his book, The Hidden Cost of Being African American, in which he tries to demonstrate the level of inequality on the "playing field for blacks and whites". One example he presents reports how a black family was denied a bank loan to use for housing, while a white family was approved. As being a homeowner is an important method in acquiring wealth, this situation created fewer opportunities for the black family to acquire wealth, producing social inequality.

Gender Inequality

One of the major forms of social inequality is in the form of gender. The emphasis on gender inequality is borne out of the deepening division in the role assigned to male and female in all spheres of human endeavor, particularly in the economic, political and educational spheres. Women are less active compared to men in political activities and decision making processes. Gender discrimination and women’s development is a greatly discussed matter, even though awareness regarding this subject is often ignored on the lower level. The gender and development approach through gender analysis
Gender analysis
Gender analysis is a type of socio-economic analysis that uncovers how gender relations affect a development problem. The aim may just be to show that gender relations will probably affect the solution, or to show how they will affect the solution and what could be done...

, seeks to understand the roles, responsibilities, resources and priorities of women and men within a specific context, examining the social, economic and environmental factors which influence their roles and decision-making capacity. The practice of male-female differentiation results in structural deprivation of the female life.

It has been observed that world issues like HIV/AIDS, illiteracy, and poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

 are experienced more by women than men. Girls face problems to access good education, which limits their opportunities to succeed. It is important to increase enrollement rates in school for girls and ensure they have safe, stable and good quality education. Women’s participation in work has been increasing globally. But women are faced with wage discrepancies and differences compared to what men earn. This is true globally even in the agricultural and rural sector in developed as well as developing countries. An important concept related to this is the glass ceiling
Glass ceiling
In economics, the term glass ceiling refers to "the unseen, yet unbreachable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements." Initially, the metaphor applied to barriers in the careers of women but...

 effect. It refers to the unseen, yet unreachable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements. This is still practiced by many countries, lowering the chances of women to excel. It prevents women from succeeding and making the maximum use of their potential, which is at a cost for women as well as the society’s development. Ensuring they are entitled to women's rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

 promotes a sense of belonging that motivates women to contribute to the society. Once accessible to work, women should be titled to job security, a safe environment and need to be protected against gender based violence.

Racial Inequality

Racial Inequality is the belief where individuals are treated based on the race they belong to, and their racial characteristics such as their skin colour, physical characteristics, their place of origin and culture. Some races are considered superior than others, thus resulting in unequal treatments and opportunities in a society. Racism is evident and people have the tendency to prejudge - just because one person or a group of people of a particular race does wrong, it doesn’t give anybody the right to classify them all in that same group. This classification is known as stereotyping, it is when people form pre-judgments and assumptions. This along with xenophobia
Xenophobia is defined as "an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange". It comes from the Greek words ξένος , meaning "stranger," "foreigner" and φόβος , meaning "fear."...

 and other forms of discrimination continue to occur in societies especially with the advancement of technology and globalisation. What is shown on televisions, newspapers and the internet has a huge role to play in giving people some preconceived notions to decide their views on these races. This results in racial inequality.

Caste Inequality

Caste system is another way of treating people unequally. It exists in Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

 and majorly in India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. Caste maybe dependant on one’s occupation (functional), based on origin or by birth (hereditary). There are a number of restrictions faced by people that belong to a certain caste. For example, they are not allowed to exchange and share food/drinks between people from other castes, they are restricted from going to certain places, they are only supposed to marry someone that belongs to the same caste as them – this is referred as endogamy
Endogamy is the practice of marrying within a specific ethnic group, class, or social group, rejecting others on such basis as being unsuitable for marriage or other close personal relationships. A Greek Orthodox Christian endogamist, for example, would require that a marriage be only with another...

, and also their dressing sense and food habits gets determined according to the caste they belong. Unequal treatments are faced by lower castes in the form of 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...

, physical violence and exploitation
This article discusses the term exploitation in the meaning of using something in an unjust or cruel manner.- As unjust benefit :In political economy, economics, and sociology, exploitation involves a persistent social relationship in which certain persons are being mistreated or unfairly used for...


Age Inequality

Age discrimination is defined as the unfair treatment in promotions, recruitment, or privileges because of the age of a person. Age discrimination is seen a lot in the work environment. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act was passed in 1967 and it protects people age 40 and older from being discriminated against in the employment world. Not only does the act apply to employees but it also applies to job applicants. It is considered unlawful to discriminate against someone because of his/her age especially when it comes to employment.

See also

  • Civil 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...

  • Educational inequality
    Educational inequality
    Educational inequality occurs where the quality of education available to pupils is closely related to their social class or status. A common view among scholars addressing this topic is that rather than succeeding in reducing societal inequality, schools and other educational establishments to...

  • Gini coefficient
    Gini coefficient
    The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion developed by the Italian statistician and sociologist Corrado Gini and published in his 1912 paper "Variability and Mutability" ....

  • 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...

  • LGBT social movements
    LGBT social movements
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender social movements share inter-related goals of social acceptance of sexual and gender minorities. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their allies have a long history of campaigning for what is generally called LGBT rights, also called gay...

  • Social equality
    Social equality
    Social equality is a social 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 under the law, such as security, voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, and the...

  • Social justice
    Social justice
    Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

  • Social exclusion
    Social exclusion
    Social exclusion is a concept used in many parts of the world to characterise contemporary forms of social disadvantage. Dr. Lynn Todman, director of the Institute on Social Exclusion at the Adler School of Professional Psychology, suggests that social exclusion refers to processes in which...

  • Social mobility
    Social mobility
    Social mobility refers to the movement of people in a population from one social class or economic level to another. It typically refers to vertical mobility -- movement of individuals or groups up from one socio-economic level to another, often by changing jobs or marrying; but can also refer to...

  • Social stratification
    Social stratification
    In sociology the social stratification is a concept of class, involving the "classification of persons into groups based on shared socio-economic conditions ... a relational set of inequalities with economic, social, political and ideological dimensions."...

Further reading

  • Gender-based violence in the world of work
  • UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.

External links

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