Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Globalising Inequalities

Prof Jan Pakulski.

Social inequalities are typically seen as disparities in resources that result in hierarchical divisions between social collectivities: classes, strata, status groups, neighbourhoods, generations, gender categories, etc. Students of inequalities concentrate on those disparities that offend a sense of justice. In the process of globalisation both the patterns of inequalities in advanced societies, and the underlying sense of justice, change in a complex fashion. The socioeconomic gaps have been widening in Anglo-American democracies, though due mainly to the swelling ranks of the rich and super-rich. Power hierarchies fluctuate, with citizenship rights expanding together with the widening international power hierarchies. Finally, the hierarchies of status are flattening, and the accompanying divisions of race, gender and ethnicity weaken and lose legitimacy under the impact of detraditionalisation. This marks a shift from class stratification to complex (classless) inequalities. At the same time, values and sensitivities that underlie popular perceptions of inequalities have been shifting in a libertarian direction, and globalisation makes this shift world-wide. Those aspects of inequalities that are legitimated in terms of unequal individual investments, efficiency/performance and application tend to be tolerated as fair. By contrast, social inequalities and exclusions legitimised by traditions are condemned as unfair, and are gradually eroded. This signals a shift away from a more collectivistic


Prof Jan Pakulski  (Australia)
Dean of Arts
Faculty of Arts
University of Tasmania

Jan Pakulski (MA Warsaw, PhD ANU), author of Globalising Inequalities, (forthcoming by Allen and Unwin), Social Movements (Longman 1991), and co-author of Postmodernization (Sage 1992) and The Death of Class (Sage1996). Publishes on social movements, social change, elites, social inequality and postcommunism

  • Social inequality
  • Globalisation
  • Social change

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)