In the last decade equality has returned to the centre of academic and popular discussion. Following the 2008-09 global financial crisis, there has been growing concern over the impact of economic inequality both within and between states. In addition, there has been renewed and enhanced interest in the non-directly economic ways that inequality operates in society. In academic writings, in journalistic works, as well as in artistic works, people have explored race, gender and other relations as a cause of persistent inequality.
From an academic perspective, the growing interest in questions related to equality and inequality manifested itself in research coming from disciplines that used to have relatively little interest in the topic. In earlier decades works on equality were dominated by political and social theorists (often writers from the outskirts of academia); in the last decade, there has been a wealth of works by economists, political scientists, psychologists, historians, and others that addresses aspects of equality and inequality.
The result is a significant amount of new and often challenging information and ideas. In the seminar we will review and discuss a small sampling of these works. The aim will be to look at questions related to equality from different disciplinary and political perspectives. Among the questions we will consider: Is equality important and why? What is the standard of measuring equality? What are the social causes and effects of inequality?
As the topic is vast, the choice of readings will inevitably be selective. One thing we will not read is Canadian (or other) jurisprudence on equality. However, for their seminar paper students are welcome to take on legal questions and cases, using perspectives discussed in the seminar to analyze them.