Theory platform C Inequality

The dimensions of a society’s inequality include age, gender, income, status, education, ethnicity – and not least religion. Theory platform C looks at how religious systems of norms and meanings relate to each of the other dimensions of social inequality, and to what extent they reinforce or even counteract them. Drawing on theories of social inequality ranging from Karl Marx to Amartya Sen, the social sciences provide a central key to understanding the fundamental structurings of societies. While theories of differentiation look at the structure of society at the horizontal level, theories of inequality do so vertically.

The relationship between the different dimensions of inequality is examined under the heading of “intersectionality”. The overlaying of different dimensions of inequality usually reinforces social asymmetry – for example, when members of a minority religion also have a low level of education and a low average income. The question also arises as to how the factors of religious affiliation and gender relate to one another, and to what extent religions exacerbate gender asymmetries – for example, when the superiority of a religious group is linked to the special sexual “purity” and control of women. The concept of intersectionality is helpful not only for explaining the stabilization of inequalities, but also for analyzing their dynamics of change. The concept is therefore of particular interest for the central question addressed by the Cluster of Excellence concerning the effect of religion on political and social change.

Theory platform C Inequality builds on research carried out in the past funding phase (2013-2018) as party of the then platform G Religion, Politics, and Gender Relations.