What is Social History?

What is Social History?

Social history can refer to two things: it can be a sub-discipline of the historical sciences or it can refer to a general approach to history which focuses on society. In both definitions, social history focuses on the lived experience of the past. In the context of this site and this organization, social history specifically deals with work, labor relations, and laborers. It looks into issues such as the variable value of work, the differences in working conditions throughout history, as well the various factors that influence the aforementioned conditions.

Social Inequality

Social inequality refers to the phenomenon where there are unequal opportunities and rewards for different positions or statuses within a group or society. Social inequality is characterized by several dimensions. Two of these are income and wealth. Income refers to the earnings from work or investments, while wealth refers to the total value of assets minus debts. The other important dimensions are power, education, race, ethnicity gender, and family background.

Compared to economic inequality, social inequality exists because of the disparities not only in the distribution of wealth, but also in the overall quality of life of the person. On the other hand, economic inequality refers to the unequal accumulation and distribution of wealth. Social inequality has numerous causes and it would impossible to identify them all. It exists primarily because the lack of wealth in certain areas in the world prohibit people from essentials such as housing and health care as those people who live in societies where access to these essentials are dependent upon wealth.

The Costs of Global Inequality

Inequality around the world is increasing as the rich and the elite control the rules and operations of the global economy. Not only does increasing global inequality stifle economic growth, it also represents a significant threat to political and economic stability. There are also far reaching consequences in other areas of social life. For instance, smart but poor kids are now less likely to graduate from college compared to less intelligent but rich kids. Those who have higher incomes are also able to participate more in political activities including voting, contacting politicians, and donating. In effect, the government responds more to those who are rich rather than to middle class and lower-income voters.