On Democratic Equality

Working Paper
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Equality points to one of the critical dimensions along which the quality of democracy varies. 1 What is at stake is political equality, not equality in everything human beings have reason to value, nor equality in the most important structures of social inequality – in class, status, and power. However, political equality is intertwined with, and profoundly shaped by these structures. Political equality is affected by social and economic inequality in two broad ways: dominant groups can use their social and economic power resources more or less directly in the political sphere, and they can shape the views, values, and preferences of subordinate groups by virtue of their status and their influence on education, cultural production, and mass communication, exerting “cultural hegemony”. Political equality will be extremely limited unless these effects of social and economic equality are substantially contained.

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