Relational Equalities: Institutions and Interactions

Project: Research


While equality is a widely shared social and political value, it is also a capacious one with different disciplines configuring it in divergent ways. Economists’ focus on income inequalities differ from sociologists’ inequalities of status which differs again from jurisprudential equality before the law. Some feminists, and other critical theoretical perspectives, have highlighted its abstraction and detachment from particular everyday contexts. Some have reconceived equality in the context of our everyday lives, and the inter-relational formation of selves, communities and societies. This project takes these criticisms seriously. While egalitarianism has been a call to arms for numerous political movements, an exclusive focus on society-wide in/equality risks overlooking the myriad concrete ways that in/equality is performed between actors in institutions and other contexts, and its affect on everyday life and relationships, between professional and client, for example, or manager and employee. Hence this project conceives of equality as local, rooted in concrete contexts, and relational: alive to the interactions which take place there. Joined up policy-making means taking account of these complexities; before that, social diagnosis requires that we understand them.

The aim of the project is to uncover, compare, and address the assumptions and commitments that inform different disciplines’ treatment of equality, and, related to that, to reflect upon the various contexts and domains within which in/equality is instantiated, considering their inter-relationships. These are large tasks and need to be seen in the context of a more concrete aim of the project which is to explore – as well as promote - interest in the study of equality across Depts and Schools at Royal Holloway. To that end, our plan is to organise an internal workshop on domestic equality in early 2020 where different disciplines can present the ways equality is problematised in their own field and the concrete contexts they investigate. As well as a first step in pursuing the project’s intellectual aims, this will (a) explore the scope of work on equality at the College, and on the basis of that (b) plan two further workshops on the topic including academics from other institutions as well as key non-academic stakeholders.

Layman's description

Equality is a widely shared value. Yet it has different definitions and emphases across disciplines. We aim to uncover, compare, and address the assumptions and commitments that inform different disciplines’ treatment of equality, and how it is formed in and through relationships.
Short titleRelational Equalities
Effective start/end date13/01/2031/07/20

ID: 36196413