How can the humanities and social sciences help us respond to the challenges inequalities present?by Nicholas Stern / September 29, 2016 / Leave a comment
In our sixth series of Debates, the British Academy will be exploring one of the greatest challenges of our time: inequalities. Whilst inequalities, on a number of key dimensions, have risen rapidly in most countries over the last thirty years, their prominence in political debate is more recent. It is particularly fitting that this year the British Academy Debates will gain an international platform, with a Debate in Brussels, Belgium in partnership with the Académie Royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique. This event will follow the first two Debates in Edinburgh and London, and the series will conclude with a final Debate in London.
At these four events, the public will have the chance to hear how the humanities and social sciences can help us to respond to the challenges that inequalities present. Panels of academics, commentators and journalists will explore what types of inequalities are of most concern to policymakers, both domestically and globally. They will also examine strains on democracy associated with a social and economic systems where there are great differences in rights, opportunities, status and education, health, incomes and wealth. We open our season with an event in Edinburgh on 4th October, which explores these questions.
As our first London Debate on 19th October will discuss, there can be tension between the equality of voting and other rights and the distribution of wealth. We must ask ourselves how far this tension can be contained if inequalities rise, and whether current problems of democracy, feelings of disaffection or powerlessness, mistrust of institutions and those in positions of power, declining voting participation, can be partly attributed to growing inequalities.
The impact of inequalities on individuals will be explored in our third debate. Taking place in Brussels, this event will explore how job opportunities, both quality and quantity, in Europe could be improved. Employment in Europe has become increasingly divided into high and low skilled work. More people are being forced into low-paid, precarious, temporary or part-time activities or positions. Clearly, this has implications for the lives and well-being of those who are worst…