The two terms equality and inequality, according to Andre Beteille hold a very significant position in the society of the modern world. People attach themselves to the idea of equality but in reality, are encounter with inequality, this is a great contradiction of the modern world.
In political ideology, the two principles of socialism and democracy on a whole are regarded as the ideology of equality constructed for human beings and also has a universal character. These ideas were created and developed in the western societies and are that of the west but eventually and gradually flourished to other parts of the world. These are simple ideologies but when it is placed under reality it has a different character, which is different from one society to another. On the other hand, inequality has its deep roots in human societies, which are created by human social behavior. Inequality is more of the technical problem of social reality but can be seen from the naked eye and a problem which is to be studied by sociologists, for example, Industrialization in western societies apart from its advancement, created ill effects of inequality. Many of the new forms of inequality emerged with the industrialization process. The third world countries such as that of INDIA is also considered as a society that have strong roots in traditional and cultural ideologies and has the essence of inequality. There is also a difference between the advanced societies and backward societies, that is societies that are advanced are advanced both economically and ideologically, and societies that are backward that is the third world countries (INDIA), have traditional and cultural ideologies where inequalities emerge as a result of old ways and conservative conception.
The two types of inequalities are first, which is natural that is man is naturally superior to that of an animal, this is natural inequality. Second, inequality which is created by human behaviour, or which is social, that is hierarchical differences based on caste, class etc, where human beings from birth are considered as unequal such as different abilities, aspirations etc,for example, that of hierarchical difference among Hindus and others in castes in INDIA and similar hierarchical difference among Christians in EUROPE.
According to Rousseau, these physical or natural inequalities (age, health body) have less importance what matters is the social and moral inequalities that of wealth, power and prestige. Differences become inequalities when it has social character and is social in nature. Rousseau talks about qualities of mind, where he explains the difference between human beings on basis of intelligence, people are unequal on basis of intelligence, which psychologists have organized certain tests to measure intelligence, but all these inequalities vary from one society to another and in various forms.
There are comparative studies to understand inequalities. It is a sociological approach which is also called nature comparative. These comparisons are done systematically and these systematic studies of inequality are done with proper research methods such as that observation, recording, etc. It started from the beginning of the 19th century in the west. Comparative systematic studies were originated from western societies and were only confined to western societies, whereas the non-western societies were studied by anthropologists, ethnographers, historians, etc.
Collective representations, a term coined by Durkheim, means that people of the same society share ideas, beliefs, and values which are collective that is shared in common. Individual modes of perception thought, differ from one society to another. Collective representations are seen in the abundance of the primitive societies, as they are close to nature, their physical environment which is vested in nature that is trees, plants, animals, stationary things, etc, leads to classification and evaluation of things. Whereas according to modern man, his physical environment would involve buildings, industries, monuments, etc which are less close to nature, and this is gradation is classified and evaluated.
French anthropologist, Levis Strauss, has explained the relationship between nature and culture through food and its differences, there are certain ways for the preparation of food, which is according to special certain occasions, space, and time. Every society ( primitive, tribal, modern), etc has a different evaluation of food. Apart from food, the mode of dress also differs from one society to another. A human being regardless of any society attaches standards of evaluation to the material things in or around one another. There are gradations, ranks in every society, which further means that every society has its own collective representations which differ from one society to another which leads to the evaluation of society and a source of inequality.
The second, source of inequality is considered as an organization, which involves force, power, and domination. This usually involves power and domination among men, mainly that of superordination and subordination. The more the organized system is, the more will be the chances of inequalities. Political philosophers such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Bodin have discussed the role of power domination and distribution of power, which means only a handful of people have power in their hands and the rest are dominated, this happens chiefly in an organized society. For example, the division of labor in industrial societies highly organized resulted in a violation of human rights and led to inequalities. Where the working class, young, old. men, women were dominated because of power domination. To some extent primitive societies are also organized such as neur tribes , described by Evans Pritchard. There are inequalities in the power of kinship groups and systems.
Hence the two sources of inequality are evaluation and organization, where one is deeply rooted in the culture and tradition and the other is manifested in power and domination. Power and status also play an important role in the organisation source of inequality.
Reference: Beteille, Andre Inequality among Men. London: Blackwell, 1977. Chapter 1. The Two Sources
of Inequality. Pp. 1-22