In the study of poverty and inequality, theories of all kinds abound, some more easily translated into hypotheses and tested than others. The two main domains in which difficult-to-test propositions persist are (a) discussions of whether social classes or more finely graded groupings (e.g., income categories) are the fundamental constitutive units of inequality regimes, and (b) discussions of how much inequality and what types of inequality are functional or desirable.

Describing inequality

Is inequality best described in terms of a small number of mutually exclusive "social classes?" Or is inequality better described in terms of a continuous income or prestige distribution?

How much inequality?

How much inequality is morally acceptable? How should we decide when poverty rates are unacceptably high? Do rich people have a moral obligation to share their advantages?

"When the rich wage war it is the poor who die." - Jean-Paul Sartre

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