A doctrine which sees equality of condition, outcome, reward, and privilege as a desirable goal of social organization. The bases for such beliefs have been religious and secular, and have ranged from crude slogans such as ‘we all have the same stomachs, and only one of those’, to more sophisticated Marxian statements about societies moving from the organizing principle of ‘from each according to their abilities to each according to their work’ ( socialism ) to ‘from each according to their abilities to each according to their needs’ ( communism ). But even this form of equality demands unequal treatment. Positive discrimination may have as its goal either the preparation of a ‘level playing-field’ or the facilitation of an endless series of draws with no winners or losers. Given the multi-dimensional nature of inequality and its seemingly ineluctable nature some socialist writers have sought to find equality in the unequal but inconsistent distribution of several facets of inequality . Prestige, income, education, and any other goods could be so arranged that their various levels of distribution balanced out, thus minimizing any sense of relative deprivation . In practice, however, this has involved the allocation of unacceptable levels of power to the state, the agency that is invariably charged with manipulating these social scales.See also justice, social.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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