Key messages from the 2016 World Social Science Report

In the following excerpts from the 2016 World Social Science Report, strategic ideas and proposals are presented to face inequalities. These hints, applied to Latin America and the Caribbean, are in tune with what we have discussed so far in the Course, and point to directions towards progress from various fields of activity. Let us have a look.

The issue of rising inequality and what to do about it looms large in the minds of governments, businesses, civil society leaders and citizens around the world. Reducing inequality is first and foremost a question of fairness and social justice. Addressing inequality is key to eradicating extreme poverty, fostering transformations to sustainability, promoting social progress, reducing conflict and violence, and developing inclusive governance. The next few years comprise a key moment in which social science must up its game to address and challenge inequality, in alliance with other actors who are already raising their voices. The time is now.

Key messages

● Economic and political power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a small number of people. This can threaten growth, social cohesion and the health of democracies;

● Global economic inequality declined during the first decade of this century, largely due to the reduction of poverty in countries like China and India. This favourable trend could however be reversed if inequality within countries continues to increase;

●Reducing inequalities is a requirement for human rights and justice, and is essential for success in other global priority areas, such as environmental sustainability, conflict resolution and migrations;

● Inequalities should not be understood and addressed only in relation to income and wealth. They interact across seven key dimensions: economic, political, social, cultural, environmental, spatial and knowledge;

● In recent years, some countries have succeeded in reducing or at least halting rising inequalities. Simultaneous, integrated policy actions in different spheres are needed to tackle multiple inequalities, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution;

● Responses to inequality must recognize and address the specific historical legacies and the deep-rooted cultural practices that shape inequalities in different places;

● While reducing inequalities is important everywhere, a clear priority for action lies in the poorest countries of sub-Saharan Africa, where poverty will continue to be concentrated in the coming decades if inequalities remain as high as they are;

● Collective action by citizens is opening spaces for additional solutions to inequality that can inspire inclusive policy innovation;

●A step change towards a research agenda that is interdisciplinary, multi-scale and globally inclusive is needed to accompany and inform pathways toward greater equality.

Some of the Report’s main contributions

● Understanding and acting effectively upon inequality requires us to look beyond economic inequality;

● Shared and context-specific dynamics each play a role in creating, maintaining and reproducing inequalities in different regions and countries;

● Current levels of inequality threaten our capacity to address other global priorities.

● The Report reminds us that the future of inequality is unwritten. It details cases of changes in rules, and of initiatives at various levels, that are building a fairer world.

● The Report proposes seven priority areas for a new global social science agenda on understanding and challenging inequalities; it also calls for a more transformative social science to achieve this.

Towards a new research agenda on inequalities

Contributions to the Report and to compiling it have shown up the existence of a series of gaps in the study of inequality which need to be addressed in the future.

The following are priorities in this respect:

Priority 1 – Increase support for knowledge production about inequality, and processes of social inclusion and exclusion, in those places most affected by them.

Priority 2 – Improve our ability to assess, measure and compare the dimensions of inequality over time and across the world.

Priority 3 – Deepen our understanding of diverse experiences of inequality.

Priority 4 – Deepen our understanding of how multiple inequalities are created, maintained and reproduced.

Priority 5 – Deepen our understanding of how local and global forms of inequality connect and interact.

Priority 6 – Promote research on how to move towards greater equality.

Priority 7 – Support crosscutting syntheses and theory on inequality and equality. The creation of transformative ways to reduce inequality demand a radical change geared towards the establishment of a truly global research agenda, not only more interdisciplinary, pluri-methodological, multi-scaled and globally inclusive than current programmes, but which also contributes to the construction of a fairer and more equitable future. We not only need transformative ways to face the challenge of inequality, we also need transformative methods of transforming social science to help us in this task. Is social science up to the challenge? The inequalities set out in this Report demand it. ______________

From the Coordination we invite you to discuss these key issues as Latin American and Caribbean key issues in the space set out for comments on this course activity. Perhaps this is also a good introduction to make inputs to the written reflections we are requesting from the Meeting Place at the end of this Module, when the Course is over.

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Inequalities in Latin America and the Caribbean: Research, Policy and Management for Social Transformations

UNESCO