Volume 5, Issue 1 (2014)

SPECIAL ISSUE: Inequality

Introduction: Theoretical Approaches to Inequality in Economics and Sociology
Giovanni Guidetti, Boike Rehbein
The paper discusses approaches to inequality in economics and sociology. It argues that a communication between both disciplines is necessary to make sense of the drastic increase in socio-economic inequality that we are observing at present. It seeks to assess the most relevant contributions in view of a research agenda that encompasses the virtues of existing approaches while avoiding their shortcomings and pitfalls.

Global Inequality. A Research Agenda
Boike Rehbein, Jessé Souza
The paper outlines a new approach to the understanding of inequality based on empirical research on three continents. This research found that in contrast to modernization theory the mechanisms of the production and reproduction of inequality are identical in all of these societies. The core of these mechanisms is a symbolic domination that renders structures of inequality invisible. At the same time, the actual structures, cultures and histories of each society and even locality are different and have to be studied empirically.

Southeast Asian Sociocultures
Vincent Houben
The contribution develops the research agenda introduced by the previous paper by focusing on the historical dimension. The guiding idea is to combine a bottom-up with an inside-out perspective in order to bear out more clearly the diachronic as well as the area-specific dimensions of social inequality. The concept of sociocultures will be adopted to obtain a deeper understanding of the particularities of social inequality in Southeast Asia.

Dalits in India
Vivek Kumar
The structure of caste is endowed with an inbuilt mechanism of production of inequality. This system places different groups and individuals in a hierarchy on the basis of their birth. With reference to Dalits, the paper studies inequality in India with the help of Bourdieu’s concepts of social and cultural capital. The case of Dalits proves the point that how certain castes enjoy these forms of capital because of their birth and certain other castes, like Dalits, face stigma, condemnation and exclusion.

Global and Transnational Elites
Alejandro Pelfini
This contribution studies elites in an emerging society using Chile as an example. It looks at the reactions of established elites to the emergence of new social forces and movements. These elites are challenged by rising middle classes, democratization and transnationalization at the same time. They have four possibilities to cope with the challenges: adaptation, learning, reconversion and isolation. The paper investigates the strategies chosen by Chilean elites.

From Intentional Injustice to Symbolic Violence
Kie Sanada
On the background of the debate on a decolonization of social research in Latin America, this article focuses on the epistemic and methodological implications of decolonization research done together with, and not only about, social actors. From the disciplinary perspective of social psychology, the argument focuses on forms of relationships which are established between researchers and the social actors who are involved in research projects. While the decision for a decolonization of one's own research practice is a personal decision, research has to be carried out within a particular institutional framework, which frequently perpetuates the power relationships that are questioned by the decolonial gaze. This article presents a series of examples, mainly of feminist academic activism in Mexico, where institutional spaces have been created in order to facilitate a dialogue with representatives of social movements. Regarding the lessons to be learned for German social sciences, the argument again focuses on the institutional framework in which a decolonial research practice would have to be carried out. While the epistemological and methodological challenges of decolonizing research practice are taken especially by younger researchers who are close to social movements, the institutional conditions can present serious obstacles to such options and are worth rethinking [on a structural level].

Fair Competition Law
Roger Greatrex
Establishing common rules of fair competition and intellectual property is high on the agenda of the many Western states. This endeavour seems to be only fair because it seeks to establish a level ground for all agents. The paper studies if this is actually the case. It argues that transnational corporations and other strong forces gain the most from such rules to the detriment of disadvantaged agents as they have privileged access to knowledge, the judicial system and necessary resources, while the local population in poor countries loses out.

Knowledge-based Competition
Gilberto Antonelli
The paper aims at showing the deficiencies of the debate on European labour markets and the relevance of revising the analytical framework employed in designing the labour markets’ evolution as well as in governing their actual performance. The guiding assumption is that a better interpretative framework can help both in managing the micro- and the macro-economic imbalances at four levels of global interaction: intra-European, Europe-Atlantic, Europe-Mediterranean, and Europe-Global South.

Interview with Jessé Souza
Tamer Söyler