Globalisation and Equality

Globalisation and Equality

Globalisation and Equality

Globalisation and Equality

Synopsis

Is globalisation creating a more unequal world? Is it creating new forms of inequality? Does it make certain pre-existing forms of inequality more morally or politically significant than they would otherwise have been? Globalisation and Equality examines these and related questions, exploring the way increasing globalisation is challenging our conceptions of equality. The contributors explore these themes from both theoretical and empirical perspectives. Some adopt a more abstract approach, exploring foundational questions concerning the meaning of equality, its social and political dimensions, and more specifically its moral implications in a global context. Others engage the general themes of globalisation and equality by focusing on specific topics, such as welfare, citizenship, gender, culture, and the environment. Original in the questions it poses, and interdisciplinary in its approach, this collection of essays will appeal to all those with an interest in globalisation and equality.

Excerpt

Keith Horton and Haig Patapan

It has become increasingly common, in recent years, to raise concerns linking the two main themes of this volume, globalisation and equality. It is often claimed, for example, that globalisation is exacerbating social and economic inequalities both within and between countries. Another claim is that, as well as exacerbating pre-existing inequalities, globalisation is creating new forms of inequality, such as inequalities in power to shape the rules which regulate the emerging global order. And a third is that, whether or not it is exacerbating pre-existing inequalities, or creating new forms of inequality, globalisation makes certain inequalities more morally or politically significant than they would otherwise have been. According to those who make this third claim, there is more reason to be concerned about certain inequalities in a more globalised world than there would be in a less globalised world.

Claims like these raise a great variety of questions. Some of those questions are conceptual or semantic. Thus one needs to ask, for example, what precisely those who make such claims are referring to when they talk about 'globalisation', and what the 'metric' or 'currency' of the relevant comparisons are. Equality or inequality of what, exactly? And then there are a variety of empirical questions. Does the available data actually support the claim that economic inequalities within countries have increased during the period of globalisation, for example? And if so, does it also support the claim that globalisation - on one or another specification of that term - is a major causal factor in such change?

But perhaps the deepest questions raised by the kinds of claims sketched earlier are normative questions concerning exactly why such inequalities might be taken to matter, morally or politically speaking. For example, take the case of inequalities in income between people living in the world's richer and poorer countries. These inequalities are extreme, and growing. To quote from the 1999 United Nations Development Report, 'The income gap between the fifth of the world's people living in the richest countries and the fifth in the poorest was 74 to 1 in 1997, up from 60 to 1 in 1990 and 30 to 1 in 1960' (UNDP 1999:3).

Just about everyone finds these statistics disturbing. But what exactly is it that is so troubling about them? A variety of different answers might be given to this question. And each of those answers raises further questions. Thus one might find the statistics in question troubling, for example, because one thinks that everyone

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