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In George Orwell's Animal Farm, you might remember when the line "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." That was by the pigs who controlled the farm representing real-life governments when it comes to social and economic fairness.
If you've taken any kind of sociology course, you might've heard of Amartya Sen. He's an Indian philosopher and economist who's helped distinguish the differences in what makes us equal, or I should say unequal, today. Titled Equality of What? Sen's theories on equality within Western society shed light to the possibilities that we might not be all we think we are.
Sen definition of equality can be as follows: a socially mechanized concept believed to have distributive factors that benefit the individual and the population and society as a whole while retaining intrinsic social goods, rights and responsibilities.
What on earth does that mean? Basically, that once we're born, we have the right to certain opportunities by government, society and our communities like you know, education or a little something called health care.
But, how can we divide the goods in regards to how many we have? If we have 10 people and five apples, we would cut the five in half and everyone would be happy, right? Unfortunately, it's not that simple.
Jennifer Hochschild’s principle of differentiation can be described as the assumption of the differences in race, sex, ancestry and other genetic and physical factors to create different claims on social resources. Hochschild and Sen both seem to hold the ideas of justice into distributive welfare which eventually leads to the promise of social equality.
Marxist theory suggests that the dominant class controls the political, economic and ideological instructions in a society according to Hochschild. This concept is relevant to Sen as well in which he describes that most of wealth and welfare distribution is acknowledged by the status of the mass middle class of a population. Similar to this, Sen describes one of the factors in his concepts of equality, total utility equality, that in essential welfarism, the “goodness” of a state is judged by the utility-level of the worst-off person in the state.
This goes back to Hochschild’s Marxist concept of a dominant class, even though the judgment is based upon the poor, the health of that state is still dependent on the utilities distributed by upper classes. However, Hochschild’s ideas are unique to Sen since she tends to focus on social standards rather than economic which Sen does. Hochschild describes an early assumption individuals have of believing they are better or worse than their peers based on social and class status as well as differentiation identities. Sen uses more of a statistical view of the population to support his theses of equality.
Despite the differences, both candidates relate back to each other on the moral claims of equality and the underlined theme of the Orwellian concept of all people being equal, but some being more equal than others.