There has been an immense amount of philosophical work on the idea of equality in the last thirty years, resulting in a number of different conceptions of equality. In this paper, we define equality in a robust sense as ‘equality of condition’. The most general way of defining equality of condition is simply to say that it is the belief that people should be as equal as possible in relation to the central conditions of their lives. Equality of condition is not about trying to make inequalities fairer, or giving people a more equal opportunity to become unequal, but about ensuring that everyone has roughly equal prospects for a good life.
It is tempting to call equality of condition ‘equality of outcome’ in order to contrast it with the idea of equal opportunity, but that can be a little misleading, because there is no plausible egalitarian theory that says that the outcomes of all social processes should be the same for everyone. Equality of condition is ...view middle of the document...
The central aim of equality of condition in its fourth dimension is to reduce power inequalities as much as possible. To do this, first of all we need to endorse traditional liberal civil and political rights, but with less of a commitment to property rights. We also have to support certain group-related rights, such as the right of groups to political representation or their right to education in minority languages. Finally, equality of power is about a more egalitarian, participatory politics and about the extension of democratic principles to all areas of society, particularly the economy and the family.
The fifth dimension of equality is working and learning. In all societies, work plays a very important role not just in access to resources but also in shaping relations of status, power, and love, care and solidarity. But work is also important in its own right, as a potential source of personal development and as a potential burden. So work has to be looked at from both these directions when considering equality, to ensure that everyone has a right to some form of potentially satisfying work, that there should be limits to inequality in the burdens of work, and that people should be compensated for unequal burdens when they occur. We should literature focuses on how various emotions impact on learning generally or in particular subject areas (Bower, 1994; Omrod, 1999, McLeod and Admas, 1989)
In this paper, we treat the subject of equality in education in a holistic manner. We examine key dimensions to equality that are central to both the purposes and processes of education: equality in educational and related resources; equality of respect and recognition; equality of power; and equality of love, care and solidarity. We indicate in each case some of the major changes that need to occur if we are to promote equality of condition in each of these areas of educational practice.
Given the defining role that education plays in selecting and allocating people within the economy in particular, and the reciprocal role that inequality of economic resources has on inequalities within the education process itself, we give particular attention to the issue of equality of resources, focusing on its relationship to social class.