Which equalities matter?: the place of affective equality in egalitarian thinking

Kathleen Lynch, John Baker, Sara Cantillon, Judy Walsh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


There is a deep ambivalence in Western society about caring and loving generally. This ambivalence has found expression in the academy in both liberal and radical egalitarian traditions, love and care have for the most part been treated as private matters, personal affairs, not subjects of sufficient political importance to be mainstreamed in theory or empirical investigations, while the subject of solidarity is given limited research attention. Sociological, economic, legal and political thought has focused on the public sphere, the outer spaces of life, indifferent to the fact that none of these can function without the care institutions of society. Within classical economics and sociology in particular there has been a core assumption that the prototypical human being is a self-sufficient rational economic man. There has been little serious account taken of the reality of dependency for all human beings, both in childhood and at times of illness and infirmity. That fact generates two very important forms of inequality: inequality in the degree to which people’s needs for love and care are satisfied, and inequality in the work that goes into satisfying them. These are the core of what we call ‘affective inequality’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAffective Equality: Love, Care and Injustice
EditorsK Lynch, J Baker, M Lyons, M Feeley, N Hanlon, M O'Brien, J Walsh, S Cantillon
Place of PublicationUK
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780230245082
ISBN (Print)9780230227194
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • affective equality
  • egalitarian traditions
  • dependancy
  • welfare


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