The Society of Equals
by Pierre Rosanvallon
(Harvard University Press, 2013)
Since the 1980s, society’s wealthiest members have claimed an ever-expanding share of income and property. It has been a true counterrevolution, says Pierre Rosanvallon — the end of the age of growing equality launched by the American and French revolutions. And just as significant as the social and economic factors driving this contemporary inequality has been a loss of faith in the ideal of equality itself. An ambitious transatlantic history of the struggles that, for two centuries, put political and economic equality at their heart, The Society of Equals calls for a new philosophy of social relations to reenergize egalitarian politics.
There is no returning to the days of the redistributive welfare state. Rather than resort to outdated notions of social solidarity, we must instead revitalize the idea of equality according to principles of singularity, reciprocity, and communality that more accurately reflect today’s realities.
Introduction: The Crisis of Equality
1. The Invention of Equality
2. The Pathologies of Equality
3. The Century of Redistribution
4. The Great Reversal
5. The Society of Equals: A Preliminary Outline
Pierre Rosanvallon is Professor of Political History at the Collège de France and Director of Studies at L’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. He is the author of "Democracy Past and Future" (Columbia University Press, 2006) and "Democratic Legitimacy" (Princeton University Press, 2011).
See Rosanvallon's lecture "Rethinking Equality in an Age of Inequalities" [pdf] from November 2011. A video of the lecture is available here.
A review of the book by Daniel Ben-Ami in "The Financial Times" here.
An interview with Rosanvallon on his book here (in French).
German edition: "Die Gesellschaft der Gleichen" (Hamburger Edition, 2013). A review by Anna Hollendung here.