Elizabeth Anderson’s essay in our “What is Inequality?” series calls attention to the limits of conceptualizing inequality through the lenses of distribution and discrimination. Anderson emphasizes a relational approach to inequality, one that focuses on enduring social hierarchies. Looking at inequality relationally, Anderson argues, better helps us understand the goals of egalitarian social movements in a way that encompasses claims for distributional fairness and the elimination of discriminatory practices.
Elizabeth Anderson is John Dewey Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy and Women's Studies at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is the author of Value in Ethics and Economics (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1995), The Imperative of Integration (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), and numerous articles on democratic theory, egalitarianism, race, class and gender inequality, the uses and limits of markets, feminist epistemology, and the interaction of facts and values in social scientific research. Her current research focuses on the history of egalitarianism. She is former president of the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.