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Updated: Nov 10, 2023

๐Ÿ“š Welcome, fellow students of political science! ๐ŸŒ If you're diving into the exciting world of political theory and exploring the profound concept of "Equality," you're in for an enriching journey. ๐Ÿค“โœจ

Our blog serves as your trusted companion, tailored not only for University of Delhi's semester 3 core paper but also for students worldwide studying political theory. ๐ŸŒ๐Ÿ“–

We understand that "freedom" is a fundamental pillar of political thought, and we're here to help you unravel its various facets, debates, and nuances. ๐Ÿ—ฝ๐Ÿค”

With our concise and comprehensive notes, you'll gain a deeper understanding of this critical topic, empowering you to excel in your studies and engage in informed discussions. ๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ’ก


Introduction to Social Equality

  1. Social equality is a concept that encompasses various aspects of equal rights and status in a society.

  2. It includes legal rights, security, voting rights, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, property rights, and access to social goods and services.

  3. A fundamental requirement for social equality is the equal rights of all individuals before the law.

  1. Social equality not only concerns rights but also emphasizes equal opportunities for individuals to succeed and equal accountability for their actions.

  2. The concept of social equality is rooted in normative political theory, shaping just societies and governance systems.

  3. Throughout history, various thinkers like Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau, Marx, and Tocqueville have contributed to the evolution of the idea of social equality.

  4. Social equality has been a driving force behind movements and revolutions challenging unjust social systems and undemocratic governments.

  5. It's a complex and multifaceted concept that can be interpreted and applied in various ways, making it a dynamic and enduring idea.

  6. Equality is considered a universal concept, relevant in diverse societies and contexts throughout time.

Meaning of Equality

  1. Equality is a foundational principle in self-governing societies, emphasizing the fair treatment, equal opportunities, and satisfaction of basic needs for all individuals.

  2. The term "equality" has origins in old French and Latin words like "aequalis," "aequus," and "aequalitas," meaning even, level, and equal.

  3. Natural equality asserts that all individuals are born naturally free, even though they may differ in physical and mental attributes.

  4. In a general sense, equality means providing equal treatment and rewards to all members of society.

5. Equality opposes disparities and has been a demand in society since ancient times.

6. Theoretical arguments have been made in support of equality.

7. It acknowledges inherent differences among individuals based on anatomy, form, color, strength, and intelligence.

8. D.D. Raphael defines the right to equality as the right to equal satisfaction of basic human needs, including the development and use of uniquely human capacities.

9. Equality is not about absolute sameness but opposing inequitable treatment and ensuring fairness and equal opportunities.

10. At the core, it aims for complete and absolute equality at the most basic level, followed by equal opportunities for individuals to develop their potential.

Characteristics of Equality

  • Equality does not imply absolute sameness among individuals, recognizing natural dissimilarities.

  • It seeks the absence of unnatural, man-made inequalities and privileged classes in society.

  • Equality grants and guarantees equal rights and freedoms to all individuals, regardless of their background or characteristics.

  • It establishes a system providing equal and adequate opportunities for all members of society.

  • Prioritizes the equal satisfaction of basic needs for all individuals before addressing the special needs of certain individuals.

  • Equality supports a fair and equitable distribution of wealth and resources, aiming to minimize wealth gaps.

  • Acknowledges the principle of protective discrimination to help the weaker sections of society.

  • In the Indian political system, it grants equal rights to all citizens but incorporates special protection, facilities, and reservations for disadvantaged groups.

  • Equality evolves over time and has different interpretations, from formal equality to equal outcomes.

  • The balance between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome varies and depends on societal values and policies.

Equality of Opportunity vs. Equality of Outcome

  1. Equality of opportunity focuses on providing a level playing field for individuals, especially at the start of their lives, aiming to ensure that everyone can pursue their goals without facing unfair barriers.

  2. Equality of outcome is about ensuring that, in the end, everyone has similar levels of resources, well-being, and opportunities, which may require significant government intervention.

  3. Balancing these forms of equality involves determining the extent of government intervention and where to draw the line between equal opportunity and equal outcome.

Marx's Views on Equality

  • Karl Marx was concerned about inequalities in society, including social, economic, and political disparities.

  • He believed these inequalities were primarily caused by the capitalist system.

  • Marx argued that merely declaring equal rights and freedoms was insufficient to achieve real equality.

  • He advocated for human emancipation, involving the abolition of private property through the seizure of political power to eliminate inequalities.

  • Marx had two main principles of equality: rewarding individuals based on the work they do and providing individuals with what they need.

  • Marxists believed that these principles could lead to a more equal society through the abolition of capitalism.

Affirmative Action

  • Affirmative action is a strategy to help disadvantaged groups facing discrimination, aiming to provide equal opportunities.

  • In India, it involves a system of reservations or quotas in jobs and educational institutions.

  • Critics argue that affirmative action can result in reverse discrimination and raise concerns about merit-based selection.

  • Its purpose is to reduce inequalities and promote the participation of historically disadvantaged groups, addressing historical discrimination.

  • The "creamy layer" concept is introduced to ensure that only those in need of assistance benefit from affirmative action.

  • The goal is to create a more equitable and just society.


  1. Equality is a fundamental principle in self-governing societies, emphasizing equal treatment, opportunities, and the satisfaction of basic needs.

  2. It has various forms, including political, social, legal, natural, and economic equality, each focusing on different aspects of equal treatment and opportunities.

  3. Equality and freedom are closely intertwined in political thought, both essential for a just society.

  4. Affirmative action is a strategy aimed at reducing inequalities and providing equal opportunities for historically disadvantaged groups.

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