Pages 14

In the last hundred years, empirical studies of inequality have been significantly influenced by normative theories of equality. Social theorists have recognized the presence of inequalities of many kinds in the societies of which they have direct knowledge and experience, but they have also speculated about the existence and prospects of equality in past and future societies. Here there has been a major division: some have argued that inequality is an inherent feature of all societies, whereas others have maintained that egalitarian societies have existed in the past and can be brought into existence in the future.