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Injustice: Why social inequality persists


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Talk by Danny Dorling, first given in April 2010. Slides created by Benjamin Hennig.

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Injustice: Why social inequality persists

  1. 1. Injustice: Why social inequality persists Danny Dorling University of Sheffield The claim: the five social evils identified by Beveridge in 1942 are gradually being eradicated, they are being replaced by five new tenets of injustice - elitism, exclusion, prejudice, greed and despair. Social injustices are now being recreated, renewed and supported by these five new sets of unjust beliefs. We need to again begin to think differently. All Sasi presentations are now on our new website at Go to this website for multimedia versions and the original presentations.
  2. 2. From ignorance… <ul><li>In 1942 illiteracy was widespread and numeracy was even worse. James Flynn has shown how much we have improved since (‘The Flynn effect’) </li></ul><ul><li>However, educational apartheid in the UK has risen as the majority of additional qualifications in recent decades have been awarded to a minority of young adults </li></ul>Great Britain Topography and Rivers Major road network... Major road network...
  3. 3. … to elitism <ul><li>A seventh of children in affluent countries are now routinely described as “found limited or simple at learning” by the OECD </li></ul><ul><li>Many now again believe that the ‘ability’ of children is distributed along a bell-curve with little chance for most of rising much above their set potential </li></ul><ul><li>This elitism is erroneously seen as being somehow efficient </li></ul>
  4. 4. From want … <ul><li>In 1942, for the first time in Britain, many of the poor did not go hungry thanks to rationing </li></ul><ul><li>Absolute material deprivation was reduced to the point where obesity became associated with poverty </li></ul><ul><li>Social segregation has increased as real financial rewards and benefits to those worse off have fallen — just as the riches of the wealthy have grown </li></ul>
  5. 5. … to exclusion <ul><li>a sixth of people in the more unequal rich countries are ‘debarred’: excluded from full membership of society because of poverty. A much smaller proportion exclude themselves from social norms by dint of their wealth. </li></ul><ul><li>Questioning these extremes is far from encouraged </li></ul><ul><li>Exclusion has become accepted as a new necessity, both the super-rich and widespread inequality have become acceptable </li></ul>
  6. 6. From idleness… <ul><li>In the 1930s millions of people were desperate for a job … any job </li></ul><ul><li>That desperation was eradicated by creating new employment and providing better social security </li></ul><ul><li>But a wider racism has developed, a new social Darwinism, which sees some people as inherently less deserving and able than those who ‘need’ great rewards to work in ‘top jobs’ </li></ul>
  7. 7. … to prejudice <ul><li>a fifth of adults in countries like Britain and the United States are now serial “debtors”. Rising inequalities in income and wealth have made it more likely that people get into debt in order to keep up with their peer group and avoid being judged ‘undeserving’, of living in the wrong place, or of just wearing the wrong clothes. </li></ul><ul><li>This prejudice is being painted as natural – as Darwinian. </li></ul>
  8. 8. From squalor… <ul><li>After 1942 unprecedented numbers of households were homeless, the eradication of slums was a priority </li></ul><ul><li>Most spending on housing was initially for those who most needed housing </li></ul><ul><li>But now a mantra is widely accepted that for those who have most to spend, their spending is necessary at almost any cost, including growing global inequalities and mounting debt </li></ul>
  9. 9. … to greed <ul><li>a quarter of households in Britain are ‘discarded’ in terms of social inclusion. </li></ul><ul><li>Many cannot afford to run a car while others have more cars than they can drive. </li></ul><ul><li>Foreign holidays are advertised as normal, whereas increasing numbers of households cannot afford a single annual holiday </li></ul><ul><li>Greed is presented as good, welcomed as what now drives our model of economic growth, not ‘duty’ but ‘greed’ </li></ul>Great Britain’s population distribution
  10. 10. From disease… <ul><li>In 1942 a near bankrupt country planned the introduction of efficient national health care </li></ul><ul><li>The NHS and reduced social inequality, resulting in a great reduction in suffering and fear of physical disease </li></ul><ul><li>But anxiety rose in place of disease, best understood as a symptom of living in times and places when wide inequalities are seen as acceptable </li></ul>Political Britain
  11. 11. … to despair <ul><li>a third of families in Britain now contain someone who suffers depression or chronic anxiety disorder. The result of living in more unequal affluent countries is to harm the mental well-being of people in general and especially adolescents, who now face such uncertain futures </li></ul><ul><li>Despair is becoming seen as inevitable, the symptoms require mass medication, but what of the causes…? </li></ul>Greedy Britain
  12. 12. Inequality is expensive. In money, learning, respect, labour, housing and lives. <ul><li>Among the world’s richest 25 countries: The most unequal are: 17.7 Singapore (-) 15.9 US (20) 15.0 Portugal (-) 13.8 UK (22) 13.4 Israel (-) </li></ul><ul><li>And the most equal are: 6.9 Germany (14) 6.2 Sweden (8) 6.1 Norway (8) 5.6 Finland (10) 4.5 Japan (-) 90: 10 income ratios (note 37 page 327 of ‘Injustice’ Why social inequality persists) ( in brackets UNDP 2009 % aged 16-65 lacking literacy) </li></ul>Unequal Britain Credits Presentation by Danny Dorling and Benjamin Hennig Maps and animations by Benjamin Hennig
  13. 13. All Sasi presentations are now on our new website at Go to this website for multimedia versions and the original presentations.