Social In/Equality

Centre for Research on Social Inclusion, Macquarie University
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
CRSI 2003 Proceedings, 2003, pp. 1 - 14
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The paper below explores the possibility that perceptions of unfairness may be much more powerful than measured material poverty as a driver of social cohesion or fragmentation. Much of the debate in this area focuses on the material differences between groups rather than their perceptions of their situations. Economists and politicians deny the importance of perceptions, often demanding that people should compare their present situation and how it has improved relative to five years ago and fail to understand why people worry about gaps they see between their situation and the people at the top. Similarly many poverty advocates focus on small changes at the edges to income support, which may ease financial spending issues but do not tackle entrenched perceptions of disadvantages. These may include being an outsider, a sense of powerlessness and the lack of agency that comes from perceptions of inequality.
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