BAEcon Development Studies

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
A Sense of Inequality

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOCY30242
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


What shapes people's everyday understandings of inequality? This course looks at how everyday 'views' or framings of inequality emerge. The course examines how troubling social situations come to be regarded as inequalities, and how inequalities come to be seen as susceptible to intervention and change. The course explores people's 'sense of inequality' through their attitudes and perceptions, reflexive and self-conscious values and beliefs, expressions of injustice and indignity, struggles against inequality through organized protest, resistance and mundane non-compliance, but also through the more tacit, embodied and affective ways in which people 'know' and 'sense' the world. 


  • To develop understanding of the complex factors that affect the subjective experience of inequality  
  • To critically evaluate different theories of the subjective experience of inequality  
  • To develop understanding of the diversity of subjective experiences of inequality through familiarity with a range of empirical literatures 

Learning outcomes

On completion of the unit students should be able to:  

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key theoretical and empirical debates on subjective inequality  
  • Engage in theoretically informed discussion relating to people's consent, resistance or protest about unequal social arrangements  
  • Synthesise, summarise and critically evaluate information from a range of sources in order to produce assessed coursework.  
  • Understand the variable meanings of 'inequality' in academic and popular discourse Acquire and demonstrate transferable skills through group work and debates  



  1. Introduction: should people care about inequality?  
  2. Do people care about inequality? Subjectivity and consent, acquiescence and false consciousness  
  3. Attitudes and perceptions of inequality  
  4. Misrecognising inequality (restricted viewpoints, symbolic domination, hegemony)  
  5. Internalising inequality (symbolic violence and doxa, internalized racism and sexism)  
  6. Affective inequality (from shame and resignation to indignation and anger)  
  7. Protesting inequality (protest, riots, social movements and 'nonmovements')  
  8. Countering inequality (everyday insubordination, resistance and misbehaviour)  
  9. Making sense of inequality (interpretation and the practical character of understandings of inequality)  
  10. Course review: why do people put up with inequality?  

Teaching and learning methods

11 x 1x hour lectures (synchronous) 

11 x 1x hour seminar (synchronous) 

Lecture-style material will be delivered weekly through a mix of up to one hour pre-recorded (i.e. asynchronous) content and one hour live (i.e. synchronous) lecturer-led classes. Additionally, weekly one hour small-group tutorials will be delivered on-campus as long as government guidelines allow, otherwise they will be delivered online.Weekly lecture/workshop and tutorial, incorporating small group discussion of key readings focussed upon questions set by the lecturer, and whole group interactive learning.

Employability skills

This course develops skills in conceptual and analytical thinking, critical evaluation of ideas and arguments, synthesis of information from multiple sources, and group discussion.

Assessment methods

Formative 500-word essay plan 

Summative 2-hour exam (100%) 

Feedback methods

All sociology courses include both formative feedback - which lets you know how you're getting on and what you could do to improve - and summative feedback - which gives you a mark for your assessed work

Recommended reading

Bottero, W. (2019) A Sense of Inequality, London: Rowman and Littlefield (library e-book)

Bayat, A. (2013) Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle-East, Stanford University Press. (library e-book)

Bourdieu, P. (1992) ‘In Conversation: Doxa and Common Life’, (with Terry Eagleton), New Left Review, 191 (1): 111-121.

Dorling, D. (2015) Injustice: Why Inequality Still Persists, Policy Press.

Holloway, J.  (2010) Crack Capitalism. London: Pluto (library e-book)

hooks, b. (2003) Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem, New York; Washington Square Press.

Lamont, M., Moraes Silva, G., Welburn, J., Guetzkow, J., Mizrachi,  J., Herzog, H., and Reis, E. (2016). Getting Respect Responding to Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil, and Israel. Princeton University Press. (library e-book)

McCall, L. (2013) The Undeserving Rich: American Beliefs about Inequality Opportunity and Redistribution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (library e-book)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Practical classes & workshops 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Wendy Bottero Unit coordinator

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