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SOCI3070 – Social Inequality

2020 – Session 1, Online with attendance for exam, Exam centre within Australia

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, any references to assessment tasks and on-campus delivery may no longer be up-to-date on this page.

Students should consult iLearn for revised unit information.

Find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential impacts on staff and students

General Information

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Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit convenor and teaching staff
Shaun Wilson
Credit points Credit points
Prerequisites Prerequisites
130cp at 1000 level or above
Corequisites Corequisites
Co-badged status Co-badged status
Unit description Unit description
The organisational and institutional dynamics of modern societies are powerful generators of social inequality and yet they equally generate resources through which inequalities can be identified and challenged. This unit explores the social mechanisms that drive inequalities and surveys the impact of socio-economic inequality on a wide range of areas of social life (gender, culture, employment, and the economy). The unit considers how sociological theory can explain the emergence and persistence of social inequalities, the normative conflicts and struggles that inequalities produce, and the ways social institutions overcome, respond or merely adapt to inequality. We conclude the unit by looking at whether democratic societies can survive widening socio-economic inequalities and how we might explain the improvement in some types of inequality and discrimination and the curious persistence of others.

Important Academic Dates

Information about important academic dates including deadlines for withdrawing from units are available at https://students.mq.edu.au/important-dates

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • ULO1: demonstrate an advanced understanding of the foundations, generative mechanisms and multi-dimensional nature of social inequality
  • ULO2: demonstrate an understanding of the technical and sociological measurement of inequality
  • ULO3: demonstrate an ability to interpret debates and policy, political and social-movement responses to inequality

Assessment Tasks

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Assessment details are no longer provided here as a result of changes due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Students should consult iLearn for revised unit information.

Find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential impacts on staff and students

Delivery and Resources

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Any references to on-campus delivery below may no longer be relevant due to COVID-19.

Please check here for updated delivery information: https://ask.mq.edu.au/account/pub/display/unit_status


All lectures are recorded for you to listen to.

Readings are available via Leganto (on your ILearn site) or underneath the weekly tab.

There is an online Social Inequality blog to post weekly contributions to.

Unit Schedule

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

The unit schedule/topics and any references to on-campus delivery below may no longer be relevant due to COVID-19. Please consult iLearn for latest details, and check here for updated delivery information: https://ask.mq.edu.au/account/pub/display/unit_status


week Topic Tutorial  
1 Intro: the challenge of social inequality (24 Feb) None  
2 The economics and sociology of measuring inequality (2 Mar) Discrimination as a sociological process  
3 Better or worse? Trends in global inequality (9 Mar) Does inequality actually matter? The most recent debates  
4 Thomas Piketty on inequality: Trends and reactions (16 Mar) Does inequality promote political authoritarianism?  
5 Two concepts: exploitation and opportunity hoarding (23 Mar) Young people and precarious work  
6 Inequality and the idea of justice (30 Mar) Restorative justice and prisoners  

Equality of opportunity and affirmative action (6 Apr)

Mid semester break follows

How does work reinforce gender inequalities?  
8 Inequality and the labour market (27 Apr) How does social class shape life chances, Australian society?  
9 Building blocks of mobility: secure work, housing and education (4 May) Battle of the generations?  
10 Inequality and the politics of identity (11 May) Black Lives Matter and #MeToo  
11 Inequality and populism (18 May) A look at the 2019 federal election results  
12 Jobless futures: AI, automation and the basic income (25 May) Basic income trials around the world, the Jobs Guarantee  
13 Inequality and the future (1 Jun) Revision  

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