Faculty of Arts


Equality and Inequality


Inequality affects all of us, both in the details of our everyday lives and in our general understandings of who we are and how we fit in the societies in which we live. We live in times of tremendous and increasing economic inequality, in which the wealthiest ten percent of the world’s population owns 84 percent of the wealth, and the world’s 42 wealthiest individuals own more than the combined assets of the poorest 50 percent of the world’s population (source: inequality.org). Understanding this massive economic inequality is critical since, as Thomas Piketty has recently observed, inequality and redistribution are central to political conflict.

In this course we will explore the causes, consequences and forms of equality and inequality from a comparative perspective. We will consider whether there are egalitarian societies or whether inequality is inevitable. The course will explore the intersection of economic inequality on the one hand with gender inequality and inequality based on ideas of race on the other. We will examine social hierarchies, peasant inequality and social class, as well as the complex relationship between capitalism and inequality cross-culturally.


Learning Outcomes

At the completion of the course, students are expected to:

• Demonstrate an understanding of key concepts in anthropological studies of equality and inequality

• Demonstrate a familiarity with anthropological case studies of equality and inequality

• Demonstrate an understanding of what capitalism is and how capitalism is related to equality and inequality

• Demonstrate reading, writing and discussion skills at an appropriate level



Coursework only

Availability 2021

Not taught in 2021


Coordinator(s) Dr Mark Busse


ANTHRO 321: 15.0 points


ANTHRO 203 or 30 points at Stage II 

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