American University
The Dynamics of Inequality in the Human Story- A Brief History.docx (68.47 kB)

The dynamics of inequality in the human story - a brief sketch

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-20, 19:51 authored by Jon WismanJon Wisman

Teaching contemporary inequality can be significantly enriched by being nested in its dynamics over the course of human history. This essay provides those teaching inequality with a brief sketch of: 1) the original human condition of a high degree of equality that endured for 97% to 98% of our species’ existence as foragers and early agriculturalists; 2) the origin of extreme inequality that accompanied the rise of states and civilisation about 5,500 years ago as weapons technology enabled a few to subjugate the producers; 3) why, despite a significant degree of political democracy in many contemporary societies, extreme inequality persists.