Inequality studies: developing a southern approach (Paper)

Edward Webster (University of the Witwatersrand)
David Francis (University of the Witwatersrand)
Imraan Valodia (University of the Witwatersrand)
Professor Imraan Valodia
Professor Edward Webster
I: Rethinking development and development research
Start time:
29 June, 2018 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel aims to identify key questions, rationale and methodology to develop a southern approach to the study of inequality. The panel will draw together researchers from across a range of key southern countries, including South Africa, Brazil, Colombia and India.

Long abstract:

Wits University is embarking on a collaborative project which aims to conceptualise, understand and address inequality from a southern perspective. Inequality studies are dominated by northern researchers and are informed by the northern context. Our new centre (the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies) is designed to provide a forum for predominantly southern researchers, to develop a specific southern research agenda which seeks both to understand and challenge inequality in South Africa and the global south. While much of the northern research has focused on technical solutions to address inequality, we believe that these solutions will not be politically feasible unless the social and political forces driving high levels of inequality in the south are clearly understood and addressed. Inequality is a global problem, and studying and addressing it in the south will enable us to enter into a dialogue about inequality in other settings. At the centre of our analysis is the concept of power, and how its unequal distribution produces and reproduces inequality. We are also concerned to identify alternative sources of power, policy instruments, and movements that challenge inequality. This panel will bring together researchers from key southern countries which represent the changing geography of economic and political power in the global system. The panel will begin to develop the key questions, rationale and methodology to develop a southern approach to the study of inequality.