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Inequality and poverty

The ill-fitting pieces in the EU’s development partnerships

Riina Pilke and Marikki Stocchetti

Union (EU) development policy—poverty eradication and sustainable development in developing countries—poses a challenge in itself to any external intervention. Adding a reduction of inequality to this equation as another emerging development policy issue

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Gauging inequality among pastoralists

A problem of comparison

Paul Spencer

Poverty is a relative concept that is most meaningful within the context of social inequality in a particular culture. Among pastoralists in east Africa, often with mixed economies and herds that tend to fluctuate erratically over time, the problem of assessing poverty and wealth can be resolved by examining profiles of polygyny to provide a comparable index of wealth. Several profiles are examined in relation to a mathematical model based on the binomial series, with an emphasis on its social rather than mathematical implications. These series are especially apt because they closely follow the distribution of wives in a substantial sample of African societies, and they reveal different types of balances between competition and conformity associated with age and with status. The purpose of this essay is to redefine the problem of poverty in terms of the social profiles of inequality, leading toward a comparative analysis between cultures.

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Bina Fernandez

International migration in the contemporary era of globalization generates complex inequalities that require a non-statist approach to justice. This paper considers how the analysis of these inequalities may be fruitfully undertaken using Nancy Fraser’s framework of redistribution, recognition, and representation. The discussion uses empirical material from a case study of Ethiopian women who migrate as domestic workers to countries in the Middle East. The paper suggests potential directions for more transformative approaches to justice within the context of international migration.

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Alpa Shah and Sara Shneiderman

This is the introduction to a special section of Focaal that includes seven articles on the anthropology of affirmative action in South Asia. The section promotes the sustained, critical ethnographic analysis of affirmative action measures adopted to combat historical inequalities around the world. Turning our attention to the social field of affirmative action opens up new fronts in the anthropological effort to understand the state by carefully engaging the relationship between the formation and effects of policies for differentiated citizenship. We explore this relationship in the historical and contemporary context of South Asia, notably India and Nepal. We argue that affirmative action policies always transform society, but not always as expected. The relationship between political and socioeconomic inequality can be contradictory. Socioeconomic inequalities may persist or be refigured in new terms, as policies of affirmative action and their experiential effects are intimately linked to broader processes of economic liberalization and political transformation.

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Wolfgang Merkel and Jean-Paul Gagnon

challenges they face. And I think there are some dramatic challenges underway where democracy has so far not found very effective means to cope with them. One is the challenge of globalization and the other is the challenge of inequality. Gagnon: I’d like to

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Rolf Dieter Hepp

SUPI (Social Uncertainty Precarity Inequality) Network focus on current questions and problems related to the sociological analysis of the world of work. This analysis faces a significant rise in public demand for explanations of current transformations

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Paule-Monique Vernes

The main ideas of Rousseau relevant to social quality are reviewed here with reference to many of his books and essays. A central theme in Rousseau's work is connected to the evils of inequality where the poor endure their servitude in the name of an illusory common good. The social problem of inequality relates to the political problem of freedom. The social contract requires that the gap between rich and poor be as small as possible; that there is aristocratic government; and that 'the general will' combines the requirement for community with respect for individuality. The article finishes with a discussion of spatial aspects of Rousseau's work relevant to social quality, including the notion of the garden city.

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Glenn Banks

The size and dramatic impact of the large-scale mines of Melanesia make a useful case study of the effects of economic globalization on local communities, particularly in terms of poverty and inequality. In the context of debates concerning globalization and poverty, this article examines the processes around large-scale mining at both the national and local scales. It argues that the issue of scale is critical to discussions of the links between poverty and globalization, with no evidence that large-scale mining has reduced poverty at the national level in Papua New Guinea over the last thirty years. Evidence is given from the Porgera mine of the effects of mining development at the local scale, with absolute poverty down but inequality increasing. Ethnographic detail helps to situate these processes in the dynamics of the local society. It is these locally grounded attributes that account for the production of inequality far better than generalized accounts of the 'culture of globalization'.

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Christine Hobden

Citizens increasingly engage with political issues in new ways by addressing politicians via social media, campaigning at international forums, or boycotting corporate entities. These forms of engagement move beyond more regulated electoral politics and are rightly celebrated for the ways they increase representation and provide new channels of accountability. Yet, despite these virtues, political engagement beyond voting inevitably tends to entrench and amplify inequality in citizen influence on political decision-making. The tendency toward inequality undermines relational equality between citizens and muddies the channels of political accountability and responsibility. This article unpacks the ostensible tension and argues that it reveals to us another strength in views which hold the state to be citizens’ collective project and provides argumentative resources to motivate democracies to give due attention to ensuring that democratic participatory channels remain fit for purpose in an ever-changing society.

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The politics of affect

Perspectives on the rise of the far-right and right-wing populism in the West

Sindre Bangstad, Bjørn Enge Bertelsen and Heiko Henkel

This article is based on the transcript of a roundtable on the rise of the far-right and right-wing populism held at the AAA Annual Meeting in 2017. The contributors explore this rise in the context of the role of affect in politics, rising socio-economic inequalities, racism and neoliberalism, and with reference to their own ethnographic research on these phenomena in Germany, Poland, Italy, France, the UK and Hungary.