Key Concepts of Social Inequalities

  • Alfredo MelaEmail author
  • Alessia Toldo
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Geography book series (BRIEFSGEOGRAPHY)


This second chapter analyses with a critical approach a set of key concepts for the study of social inequalities. In relation to each of them, some definitions will be compared, highlighting the theoretical differences underlying them and the possible consequences of their use in the construction of urban policies. At the same time, the similarities and differences between these concepts will be highlighted, trying to make the reader aware of the risks deriving from an improper use of them. These key words are divided into three groups. The first is related to some fundamental concepts referring to the insertion of specific groups of social actors in a social system, such as integration, inclusion , as well as terms with opposite meanings and, in particular, exclusion and expulsion. The second group takes into consideration concepts more directly linked to urban processes; in particular, terms like segregation , spatial polarisation, and urban dualism . Finally, the third group includes terms related to social and cultural processes that strengthen inequalities between social groups and favour the assignment of marginal roles to minorities: in this sense, therefore, the concepts related to the symbolic power, such as stigmatisation and discrimination are taken into consideration.


Social integration Social cohesion Modernity Elite Inclusion Capabilities Segregation Social polarisation Dualism Symbolic power Stigmatisation and discrimination 


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© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Interuniversity Department of Urban and Regional StudiesPolitecnico di TorinoTorinoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Cultures, Politics and SocietyUniversità di TorinoTorinoItaly

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