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Stuart White

ISBN: 978-0-745-62774-8 December 2006 Polity 208 Pages


In Stock



The demand for equality is central to modern politics. But what exactly do we mean by equality? Does it threaten other important values? Is it a demand we should support or question?

This highly accessible book provides an engaging introduction to the concept of equality and to the debates, historical and contemporary, that surround it. It explains and critically considers how the demand for equality arises in different spheres.

In the political sphere, it explores the relationship between equality and democracy. In the economic and social spheres, it explores the ideal of meritocracy and more radical theories of egalitarian justice developed in the works of John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin. In the legal sphere, the book discusses the challenges that feminism and multiculturalism pose to conventional conceptions of equal citizenship.

It concludes with an examination of whether equality should go global, and by analyzing contemporary arguments for and against the continuing relevance of equality to the political life of affluent democracies. Throughout, the book considers the tensions internal to the demand for equality and between equality and other important values such as liberty and efficiency.

Drawing on political philosophy, sociology and the history of political thought, the book will be of interest to students and researchers in philosophy and the social sciences and anyone interested in the values that animate democratic political life.

List of Figures and Tables.


1. The Demand for Equality.

2. Democracy.

3. Meritocracy.

4. Luck Egalitarianism.

5. Equality and Incentives.

6. Equality and Difference.

7. The Future of Equality.




"A very clear and accessible introduction to debates about equality in contemporary mainstream Anglophone political theory ... It is a remarkable feat that White has managed to cover such an extensive literature in such a condensed format."
Community Development Journal

"This is the only book of its kind offering a thorough discussion of the value of equality in all its dimensions. I have no doubt that it will become a minor classic in a short time."
Paul Kelly, London School of Economics and Political Science

"This is a terrific book, carefully and accessibly written, covering a lot of material without oversimplifying. Just right for the series."
Harry Brighouse, University of Wisconsin

  • Ideal introduction to the concept of equality and the debates that surround it
  • Wide-ranging in scope – it approaches equality from the sphere of politics, economics and legal debates
  • Offers an animated discussion of contemporary debates on justice and democracy
  • According to our readers the book has the potential to become a minor classic in the field