The Struggle for Equity: Rights, food sovereignty and the rethinking of modernity

Editorial preview, Development Vol. 57.3/4 'Inequalities'

by Stefano Prato | Disparities between the rich and the poor are not an element of novelty, as the quote from Plutarch reminds us. However, inequalities have been somehow peripheral to the development discourse and have only recaptured the attention of the development community in recent years. Indeed, the significant increase of disparities across economic, social, political and intergenerational domains, and the consequent concentration of wealth in fewer hands, has characterized the recent growth and development patterns of most countries, irrespectively of conventional distinctions between North and South. Some have suggested that inequalities are a distinctive feature of modern societies, contributing to the silent emergence of their social acceptance as an intrinsic characteristic of modernity.

Inclusion and equity are probably two among the framing issues of our times and many voices are loudly advocating for these to become the central pillars of the development agenda. Interestingly, inequalities are a global phenomenon. It is the first time in modern history that one common concern appears to be so deeply shared by the poor and marginalized as well as struggling middle classes across the entire globe. Some identify in the proliferation of ‘occupy-type’ movements and the rise in global protests the early signs of what might possibly become a new global class warfare, something that has the potential of profoundly destabilizing societies and economies. Indeed, there is something about inequalities – a sort of a deep, shared aversion to unfairness – that is powerful and seems to generate an even stronger visceral reaction than poverty per se.

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Guest editorial by Alex Cobham, Tax Justice Neetwork

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