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Social equality is a state of affairs in which all people within a specific society or isolated group have the same status in certain respects. At the very least, social equality includes equal rights under the law, such as security, voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, property rights, and equal access to social goods and services. However, it also includes concepts of health equity, economic equality and other social securities. It also includes equal opportunities and obligations, and so involves the whole of society.
Social equality requires the absence of legally enforced social class or caste boundaries and the absence of discrimination motivated by an inalienable part of a person's identity. For example, sex, gender, race, age, sexual orientation, origin, caste or class, income or property, language, religion, convictions, opinions, health or disability must not result in unequal treatment under the law and should not reduce opportunities unjustifiably.
Social equality refers to social, rather than economic, or income equality. "Equal opportunities" is interpreted as being judged by ability, which is compatible with a free-market economy. A problem is horizontal inequality, the inequality of two persons of same origin and ability.
In complexity economics, it has been found that horizontal inequality arises in complex systems, and thus equality may be unattainable. It has been speculated by some conservatives like David Horowitz that socialism, a system advocating social equality, played a significant part in 20th Century murder and torture under dictators in the USSR, Maoist China and Cambodia.
- Social inequality, the opposite of social equality
- Social justice
- Ethnic Penalty
- Equality before the law
- Equal opportunity
- Leveling mechanism
- Redistribution of income and wealth
- Rule according to higher law
- Russell Blackford. Genetic enhancement and the point of social equality, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. July 20, 2006
- Thorvaldur Gylfason and Gylfi Zoega. Education, Social Equality and Economic Growth: A View of the Landscape, CESifo Economic Studies, Vol. 49, 4/2003, 557–79
- Farmer, Paul E., Bruce Nizeye, Sara Stulac, and Salmaan Keshavjee. 2006. Structural Violence and Clinical Medicine. PLoS Medicine, 1686-1691.
- W. G. Runciman. "Social" Equality, The Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 68.
- Bryce, James (1898). "Equality," The Century; A Popular Quarterly, Volume 56, Issue 3.
- Mallock, William H. (1882). Social Equality: A Short Study in a Missing Science, Richard Bentley and Son.
- Stephen, James Fitzjames (1873). "Equality." In Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, Chap. V, Holt & Williams.
- Stephen, Leslie (1891). "Social Equality," International Journal of Ethics, Vol. 1, No. 3.