Inequality is a social differentiation between every member of the society. It is found in all societies. Inequality is found in every aspect in society and can be on the basis of beauty, physical strength, skills, personality, etc. Inequality gives unequal opportunity to the members of society on the basis of their status and position in society.
The existence of unequal opportunities and rewards for different social positions or statuses within a group of society is called social inequality.
TYPES OF INEQUALITY
Inequalities are of two types -
NATURAL INEQUALITY : Natural inequality refers to differences between individuals or groups that are not a result of human intervention, but rather are inherent and biologically determined. Examples of natural inequality include differences in physical abilities, intelligence, height, weight, age, sex, etc.
For instance, some individuals may be born with exceptional athletic abilities, while others may have a greater aptitude for intellectual pursuits. Similarly, some individuals may have a naturally extroverted personality, while others may be introverted.
While these differences can create varying opportunities and outcomes for individuals, it is important to note that natural inequality is not the sole determinant of success and that environmental and societal factors can greatly impact an individual's opportunities and outcomes.
MAN-MADE INEQUALITY : Man-made inequality, on the other hand, refers to differences between individuals or groups that are created by human action or intervention. This can include economic, political, and social systems, policies, and practices that result in unequal distribution of resources, opportunities, and outcomes.
VIEWS OF DIFFERENT THINKERS ON INEQUALITY :
ARISTOTLE - Aristotle believed that some people are naturally better than others, and that this is necessary for society to function properly. He thought that these better people should lead and guide the rest of society. So, he already differentiated the three classes acc to the consequences, those classes are:
1. Very Rich
2. Very Poor
ST. THOMAS AND ST. AUGUSTINE - They both believed that all people are equal in the eyes of God, and that wealth and power should be distributed fairly so that everyone can meet their basic needs. He believed that accumulating wealth beyond what is needed is wrong.
CHARACTERISTICS OF SOCIAL INEQUALITY :
- FORMS OF INEQUALITY : Social inequality can take many different forms, including economic inequality, political inequality, educational inequality, and inequality based on race, gender, sexuality, and other forms of identity. Each form of inequality has its own unique characteristics and causes, but they are all interrelated and can reinforce one another.
- SUBJECTIVE AND RELATIONAL : Social inequality is both subjective and relational, meaning that it is experienced differently by different people and is dependent on the relationships between people and groups. For example, a person's experience of economic inequality may be shaped by their own financial situation, their perception of the financial situation of others, and their relationships with others who are more or less financially secure.
- AN ISSUE OF SOCIAL JUSTICE : Social inequality is a matter of social justice because it affects the distribution of resources, opportunities, and privileges in society, and it can result in unequal treatment and discrimination. Addressing social inequality requires working to ensure that everyone has an equal chance to succeed and that everyone is treated fairly and justly.
- UNIVERSAL : Social inequality is a universal issue that affects people in all societies, regardless of their level of economic development or cultural background. It is a persistent challenge that requires ongoing attention and action to address.
- ANCIENT IN NATURE : Social inequality is not a new issue; it has been present in human societies for thousands of years. While the specific forms of inequality have changed over time, the basic challenges of addressing unequal treatment and unequal distribution of resources and opportunities remain the same.
- MULTIDIMENSIONAL : Social inequality is a multidimensional issue that affects different aspects of people's lives, including their access to resources and opportunities, their sense of self-worth, and their relationships with others. Addressing social inequality requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach that addresses the various dimensions of the problem.
CONSEQUENCES OF SOCIAL INEQUALITY :
- HEALTH AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS : Social inequality can lead to health disparities as individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds often lack access to quality healthcare, healthy food, and safe living environments. This can result in higher rates of chronic diseases, mental health issues, and lower life expectancy.
- IMPACT ON THE MOST VULNERABLE : Social inequality often disproportionately affects marginalized communities such as women, people of color, and those living in poverty. This can result in a lack of access to resources and opportunities, perpetuating the cycle of inequality.
- SLOWS ECONOMIC GROWTH : When a significant portion of the population is not able to fully participate in the economy due to unequal access to resources and opportunities, it can slow overall economic growth. This is because a larger workforce and consumer base drives economic growth, and social inequality limits these factors.
- GENERATES POLITICAL INSTABILITY : Social inequality can lead to political unrest and instability as individuals and communities who feel marginalized and excluded may engage in protests and social activism. This can create tensions and conflicts, ultimately leading to political instability.
From the above reading we conclude that inequality holds the vital position in the societies which more affects the life of illiterate, less powerful, economically weaker people. Defining and measuring social inequality is complex as it is universal. It results in many negative outcomes.