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Lecture #2 - Terms, Concepts and Ideological Frameworks

New College
Course Code
June Larkin

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Intro to Equity Studies NEW240
September 22 2011
Lecture #2
Terms, Concepts and Ideological Frameworks
1) Formal Equality vs. substantive Equity
2) Equity Concepts: Historical Accountability, Ideology, Hegemony, Citizenship
3) Social Activism
What do we mean by ‘equity’?
What are the various ways of thinking about equality?
If our goal is social justice for everyone, how do we deal with difference?
How have differences been constructed, both historically and in contemporary
Why does difference matter?
What are the political implications of various notions of difference?
Equality has many different meanings
Equality is rooted in age of enlightenment – notion of natural rights for everyone.
Formal Equality: equal rights could be achieved by treating everyone the same.
Education as human right – equality of education
Breaking down barriers that keep people out - Do not consider race, gender and class >
Meritocracy: if we break down barriers, everyone will succeed (merit).
Meritocracy doesn’t take into account that people may have different needs
Just because you remove the barriers doesn’t mean that people can utilize this (whther it be
education or financial etc.)
If we only focus on access we may actually reinforce inequality, by assuming that everyone can
access if they want to –Bobiwash reading: “you get to the top of the ramp and you still can’t
get it” - Major problem with equal opportunity programs
Access is a complex issue.
Ie. Proposition 8 – mormon backed proposition to government to remove rights of same sex
couples to be marriage – passed by a 52% margin but was later declared unconstitutional and
rescinded – major public demonstrations against
Having access to a range of opportunities is just a starting point. What are the conditions that
can make it happen?
So we think more about Substantive equity: takes into consideration the impact of the social
and economic distinctions between people and the justice of the arrangements that lead up to
and resulting from these distinctions. Also considers differences in historical, social and
economic conditions. Also promotes changing the outcomes – with changing the systems that
have disadvantaged particular groups
Substantive equity is now the opperating principle in the law – taking into consideration the
difference in needs of individuals.
Formal equality: treating everyone the same. Can lead to serious inequalities for groups that
have been disadvantaged by a system that fails to take their situations and perspectives into
One word to describe formal equality: simplistic, unfair, general, same - substantive
equity: complicated, fair, specific, difference
In equity studies we are going to focus on substantive equity
Tchikovsky reading: ‘We attend to differences differently and our differences intersect in ways
to alter our experience’ – “disability often gets left out of discussion of equality, but simply
adding disability to the list of differences fails to reveal how daily existence needs and makes
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