A short guide to the causes and effects of inequality and injustice

There have always been myths, fears, and stereotypes of groups which are seen as different. History and tradition make these harder to challenge.

Dominant and subordinate relations either between groups or individuals are the life blood of inequality. These relationships are based on:

Power structures

Those in power use the techniques of domination to ensure their ascendancy: control of communications media, propaganda, denial of equal opportunities and rights, denial of participation in the mainstream, to work, education, housing etc.  These techniques, often reinforced by dogma, have also built a hierarchy based on innate biological and cultural superiority and inferiority or invalidation.

Barriers to integration

These are very obvious for disabled people but have also been used against women, black people, people of different faiths, class or caste and continue to this day in men-only clubs, synagogues, mosques etc.  Many areas of transport and urban communities are made unsafe because of the dominance of drug dealers and other criminals.

Deviance approach


Based on a medical or individual characteristic approach which assumes that some identifiable psychological or physical impairment in the individual is the determining cause of their so-called deviant behaviour.  This approach can be seen clearly in responses to, among others, homosexuals, disabled people and ‘dumb blondes’!



Dominant authorities label people as less than human, unworthy of equal respect, treatment and life opportunities. They are to be excluded from society for the protection of others or for their own good. Use of discriminatory and hate language is a good illustration of labelling and stigma.

Degredation, Abuse and Hate

All invalidated groups see emotional abuse and hatred as far worse than physical damage.  Physical damage heals but psychological damage strikes at the very root of one’s humanity and does not go away.  This is evidenced by all groups.