History | Inequality: Nations and People
J400 | 3009 | Riley
Above section open to majors only
Above section open to undergraduates only
This course deals with equality and inequality among individuals,
social groups, and nations around the globe. We’ll start by reading
selections from some of the principal theorists and philosophers who
have discussed the distribution of wealth, power, or talent,
including Aristotle, John Locke, J-J Rousseau, Karl Marx, Amartya
Sen, and John Rawls.
Then we’ll study the long history of inequality in some key areas:
income, wealth, literacy, and survival. When did elites appear in
each of these areas? How much more income, wealth, education, or
longevity did they have? Do we find a linear pattern of change
moving toward today, or is the history of inequality more complex?
Although we’ll consider the longer run, most of our study of
evidence will focus on the period since 1945. And we’ll close the
course with a discussion about where we may want the world to be 50
years from now.
Grades will be based on class discussion and papers. Readings from
articles, books, and web sites.