Chapter 10 is a chapter that attempts to discus the seemingly ambiguous concept of equality. It contains a discussion of how equality is realized in law, public policy, and society in general. Furthermore, the discussion focuses on the three different conceptualizations of equality. These are equality under the law, equality of opportunity, and equality of material well-being. The main argument of this chapter is that equality of material well-being has emerged as the dominating factor in the formulation of policies.
In order to prove his point, the author discusses each of the conceptualizations and how they are related to each other. The chapter contains a lengthy discussion of equality under the law. It discusses how the laws of a society must disregard various categorizations and consider people as individuals. Basically, this is the backbone of equality as perceived by many. It is with this conceptualization that the evil of inequality such as racism, sexism, homophobia and others are commonly argued with.
Furthermore, the author discusses how equality under the law or the lack of it has been demonstrated in U.S history. The author recounts the discrimination that different groups have received and he identifies the presumably dominant group as being white, male, and predominantly Protestant. He argues that it is such group that has used the law in order to maintain its dominance and keep other groups subordinated.
The author further argued that equality of opportunity and equality of material well-being are inseparable and dependent on each other. It is because opportunities to rise in the ranks of social mobility are dependent on the resources that one has.
The author paralleled the evolution of the conceptualization of equality to the various stages that the civil rights movement has undergone. In its earliest days, the focus of the movement was on eradication of laws that subordinated African-Americans. In other words, this referred to attacks on denials of equality under the law. In the second stage, the civil rights movement focused on fighting for equal access to values and facilities that are supposed to be available to the general public. This constituted their battle for equality of opportunity. Now, the movement is in its third stage, the battle for proportional equality or equality of material well-being.
To demonstrate how the focus shifted to proportional equality, the author recounted the laws that were deemed to be in support of the achievement of equality such as the fourteenth amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These laws were used to generate policies that meant to end inequality on various fronts specifically education and employment. For instance, the fourteenth amendment led to the end of segregation in public schools. On the other hand, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 led to the creation of EEOC which pressed for ending discrimination in terms of employment opportunities.
Having read the chapter, it is my view that equality, in all of its three conceptualizations, is all one and the same. Having one means having the others. The achievement of such cannot be the sole responsibility of the government or the law. It requires the concerted effort of the whole society. I agree with the author that today, the battle for equality has shifted to the battle for proportional equality. The achievement of such indeed reflects the fulfillment and realization of the two other conceptualizations.
Equality must not only be reflected in the law. It does not only favor those who have long been discriminated. Equality is the right of everyone. Thus, every member of society must make an effort towards the realization of it.