Inequality has been portrayed by different sub disciplines throughout Human Geography. In this essay I will focus on the two subdisciplines that I think link well to inequality and how it is perceived by assessing different pieces of academic writing. Firstly in this essay I will be discussing the study of inequality and what it means .Then I will move on to discussing the sub disciplines such as inequality within social geography and then look at the inequality within political geography.
Overall, at the end of this essay I will have argued how inequality is portrayed in today’s society through the lens of political and social aspects and how this is shown throughout the main demographic. According to an article by the United Nations (2015) inequality is ” the state of not being equal, especially in status, rights and opportunities.” This means that there is an injustice where there is inequality. Such as in rich countries where there is a rich 1% and a bottom 99% meaning that there’s a small percentage of the population with privileges and luxurious living, if looking at material items.
However inequality can also be portrayed within workplaces, households and overall within society in terms of how people are treated and what their aspirations are deemed as. For example, in a piece by Dorling (2015) it is stated that slavery was once seen as a part of nature as was not giving women the right to vote. This represents inequality whereby black people were treated unfairly and had basic human rights taken away from them and women were seen as lesser to men in society. This was described by Dorling (2015) as a ” Landscape of normality.” Inequality within Social geography is a widespread theme and still holds an important role within today’s society.
There’s an ongoing debate between the Super Rich known as the 1% and the poorer 99%. This debate is that whether we can afford the super rich as the 99% are the ones who are seen to be treated unfairly this is portrayed by the top 1% having tax rates reduced and some thinking that avoiding tax is acceptable. A quote from one of the richest men in America in 2011, Warren Buffett states ”there’s been class warfare going on for the last twenty years, and my class has won we’re the ones that have gotten our taxes reduced.” Dorling (2015). In the UK, in order to qualify to be classed as the top 1% you need to have a total household income of around £160,000 a year before tax. This is for a childless couple, if you are single you can enter with a little less money and if you have children then you could need more than the £160,000 threshold according to the institute of fiscal studies (IFS). The argument that Dorling is giving from his writing is that as the 1% get richer the rest of the 99% become more equal however Dorling (2015) suggests that this is no good as those who are at the top keep on taking more and more.
This means that the gap between the rich and poor is still growing even though it may seem that the 99% are gaining some equality. Therefore the argument outlines that gap is still increasing and not reducing making inequality more prominent.In Dorling’s writing it’s stated that before the 2008 crash the inequality within the 99% was falling, however it only became clear after 2008 that the gap between the 1% and the rest was significantly increasing. Massey has looked at how poverty will shift from rural areas to urban areas, this is almost as if the roles have reversed as before the twentieth century rural areas were known to be poverty stricken and urban areas were seen as more affluent areas. This is known, according to Massey (1996) as ” The New world order.” Massey has also argued that class segregation will increase and this is due to a new ecological structure which according to Massey’s theory stems from the ” deep and powerful forces that operate in the world today.
” Also according to Massey (1996) he states that sometime between 2010 and 2020 the developing world will cross a dividing line and for the first time the majority of developing countries populations will live in urban areas. Also the return of inequality within these areas has been touched upon by Massey (1996). Whereas before people used to migrate from rural areas to urban areas to try and better themselves. Massey’s theory states that poor people who arrive in the ”burgeoning metropolises” are more likely to stay poor. This is because of the post industrial transformation since the 1970’s which has led to an economic structure of high paid jobs for the well educated, middle income jobs for those who are moderately schooled but not as advanced and then poorly paid jobs for those with little schooling. However, I would argue against this point in today’s society as there are a lot more opportunities available for people whether they have been well schooled or not. For example, more people in today’s society have a chance to study further education than ever before as government grants and loans allow many people to achieve their aspirations of going to university and getting the qualifications they require whereas before, even school was seen as a privilege within society.
Inequality within political geography is different to that of inequality within social geography as this is deemed to be associated with the notion of power and often involves ‘the state’. However I also believe that these sub disciplines of human geography link well with the discussion of inequality as in some way as the state relies on governmental authority to look after the citizens of the state which often leads to inequality being formed. This means in terms of where people live and how people are divided depending on their income and certain privileges they have. For example, in the UK, typically in London we can see how house prices are affecting first time buyers from being able to afford houses and these houses are often going to the elite. This is then having a knock on effect according to travers et al. (2016) as the increasing house prices are causing disparities in wealth. Power is linked heavily with political geography and this can therefore also lead to inequality. Authority is a form of power which I think can cause great inequality as sometimes there can be too much authority leading to a backlash from those who are undergoing unequal rights.
However, there can also be not enough authority meaning that violence, more often than not occurs. For example the London riots were seen to happen due to a lack of authority. Agnew (2005) argues that ” the main thrust of contemporary world politics is the result of the particular hegemony exercised by american society in the rest of the world.” Thus Agnew is arguing that due to the leadership and the way in which America is being run then this is being portrayed worldwide whereby there is a head of the state and everyone else is following what is happening at the top.
Agnew (2005) also states that political power is never appears to be equal everywhere suggesting that this is because the power pools up in centres due to the concentration of the resources available.Inequality can also be seen within resistance and the way in which people can be dominated. According to Sharp et al (2000) dominating power is a power which ”attempts to control or coerce other, impose its will upon others or manipulate the consent of others.” This dominating power can be seen within the state and within social and political institutions.
Sharp also states that Dominating power ”engenders inequality and asserts the interests of a particular class, caste, race or political configuration.” However, this all comes at the expense of others leading to people being treated unfairly and losing out. ‘Neo-pluralism’ has also admitted to uneven terrain in which political processes occur and therefore to distinctions between groups or individuals who are either powerful or powerless within the process which influence the actions of the state Sharp et al (2000).
This means that there is inequality in terms of decision making within the state, such as voting for the citizens of the state in order to see change as they are seen to have some power in the sense that they are having an input in making a change however it is not clear as to whether or not these votes are being treated fairly by the groups and constituencies who are above the individuals. An example of this would be when voting in a general election, as individuals all vote for what they think is right however, there is no certainty if they are being counted fairly or if the overall result is decided by the few who have the most power over the state e.g. the government. Class also links with inequality, particularly with political geography.
Marxist accounts for class where there is two classes. Class 1 which refers to those who are higher and middle class are associated with those who known as capitalists, bourgeoisie and employers and own high end assets such as means of production, property and resources. Those who are in class 1 are also known to attain their income from profits compared to those in class 2 who attain their income from wages from those in class 1. Also those in class 2 are known as labourers, proletariat and workers. Also, those considered as class 2 only own their own labour which is then utilised by capitalists who then make profits from their labour to help themselves.
Often those who are employed by employers are left cut short as they are not paid the same for their labour as what the employer makes for the product they have produced, this is a means of capitalism. There is also the political elite who are at the very top of the state.These are the people who action what happens within their state and have the power to set the rulings for the citizens of the state to follow. Inequality also occurs within the politics of multiculturalism. Modood et al (1997) look at the politics within ”the new Europe” whereby the end of the cold war allowed for Europe to become one again after it had been divided for nearly fifty years.
This explains the collapse of the Soviet union where according to Modood et al (1997) ” the shifting of boundaries as new politics were born’ and new states were created.” There is also an unjust treatment of muslims who are seen to be treated unfairly according to Modood et al (1997) as ”among Western Political elites has replaced communism as the main threat… to Western civilization.” Within the writing that this is a way that central Europe politics has projected itself with the use of its discourse, however seems to be a way of creating a barrier with an unequal judge of character through what is being believed from those who are above us.Overall, having looked at the two sub disciplines of inequality within social geography and inequality within political geography it’s clear to see that the arguments within social geography are a lot more about how people are treated unequal and unfair whereas I have gathered that within political geography it’s very much about how those inequalities originate within the state and governments. This essay has argued that inequality still exists within today’s society even though some people don’t agree with this.
However, when looking deeper into the context you can see from the academic research there’s still very much an issue with inequality and power, as well as the class systems as some people don’t refer to themselves as having a class but others do meaning there’s some sort of divide in opinion.