EQUL40180 Sociology of Inequality

Academic Year 2023/2024

The aim of the course is to enable students to think, and write, critically about social inequality using the tools of sociological analysis at an advanced level. To achieve this objective the course will:
a) Use key classical and contemporary sociological theories to explain the origins, reproduction, and resistance to, social inequality locally and globally
b) Use sociological theories to discuss and analyse the impact of capitalism on social class-related inequalities in particular
c) Develop a sociological understanding of how materially-based inequalities, particularly social class inequalities, interface with gender, racial, ethnic and other inequalities and how these can be challenged.
The course will also analyse the ways in which sociology itself can be employed in a colonising way as a power discipline.
PEDAGOGICAL APPROACH: The approach to teaching will be dialogical with a strong emphasis on student participation, discussion, and engagement. Students will be required to read selected book chapters, journal articles etc before each lecture.
STRUCTURE and OVERVIEW OF THE COURSE:This course utilises classical and contemporary sociological theory and empirical research to critically examine the way unequal categorisations and divisions between peoples are created, reproduced and changed in society. Capitalism as a force in promoting inequality is of particular interest to sociologists so there will be strong focus on how social class inequalities are created, reproduced and challenged. The course will also require students to apply their sociological knowledge to understand and challenge contemporary injustices.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

1. Demonstrate advanced theoretical understanding of the key debates in sociology concerning inequality.
2. Analyse the capacity of sociological theories to explain the relationship between capitalism and social class inequality in particular.
3. Apply knowledge of sociological theory to the broader, interdisciplinary context of equality studies and contemporary issues of injustice.
4. Make informed judgements about sociological theory based on complex and (necessarily) incomplete information.
5. Reflect on wider egalitarian issues involved in applying sociological theory to contemporary societies. 6. Communicate conclusions about sociological theory, and the knowledge and rationale underpinning these, to specialist and non-specialist audiences clearly and unambiguously
7. Have the learning skills to be able to continue to study sociological theory in a largely self-directed or autonomous manner.

Indicative Module Content:

Towards a Critical Sociology of Inequality – Rethinking the Sociological Imagination in the 21st Century
Measuring and Interpreting Poverty and Inequalities
Marxist Perspectives on Capitalism and Class
Power, Knowledge, and Subjectivity: Foucault On Governmentality and Inequality
Power and Powerlessness: Political Sociology of Inequality
Gender and Intra-Family Inequalities: Considering Inequalities of Care.
Bourdieu on Inequality: Culture, Capitals, and Class
Racism and Anti-Racism
Intersectionality: Multiple Sources of Inequality
The Power of Ideas/Ideas in Power
Precariat: A Dangerous Class?

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning






Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The approach to teaching will be dialogical with a strong emphasis on student participation, discussion, and engagement. Students will be required to read selected book chapters, journal articles etc before each lecture. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

This module is restricted to students in postgraduate programmes in Equality Studies.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: Research essay Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will receive individual feedback following the submission of the research essay.

Name Role
Dr Michael Byrne Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Krisna Ruette-Orihuela Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Ernesto Vasquez Del Aguila Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Thurs 16:00 - 17:50