Inequality, Class, and Power in Global Perspective: Feminist Reflections

Part of the New Approaches to Religion and Power book series (NARP)


Although the European debt crisis dominated the 2012 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (January 25–29) in Davos, Switzerland, according to the Associated Press “for the first time the growing inequality between the planet’s haves and have-nots became an issue, thanks largely to the Arab Spring uprisings, the Occupy movement, and other protests around the globe.”1 The fifty or so World Economic Forum Occupiers, who camped out in igloos throughout the meeting, identified these inequalities not as haves and have-nots, but following other Occupy movements, as “the 1 percent” and the “99 percent.” Their “Call to Action” to Occupy the World Economic Forum, charged “This year, we will not let them exclude us, the—99%!” They called on others to join them “and stand up against the WEF and the 1% that are making the rules of this unfair global economy.”2


World Economic Forum Fair Labor Association Private Wealth Global Income Royal Dutch Shell 
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  1. 4.
    Although the top 1 percent own 35.6 percent of US private wealth, the top 95–99 percent own 27.9 percent. Together the top 5 percent own almost two-thirds of US private wealth. The distribution of stock market wealth (which includes direct ownership of stock shares and indirect ownership through mutual funds, trusts, IRAs, Keogh plans, 401(k) plans, and other retirement accounts) is also disparate: the top 1 percent own 38.2 percent while the 90–99 percent owns 43 percent. The bottom 60 percent own just 2.5 percent. Together the top 10 percent own over 82 percent of stock market wealth, a figure that has hardly changed in the past 20 years. Economic Policy Institute, State of Working America, 2011,, accessed February 17, 2012.Google Scholar
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    This statement, as well as documents from the AGAPE process, the Poverty, Wealth, and Ecology Project, and the Women and Global Economy Project are available at the WCC website, They include policy proposals and alternatives. I have participated in some of the consultations of these projects. Also see Justice Not Greed, ed. Pamela Brubaker and Rogate Mshana (Geneva: WCC, 2010).Google Scholar

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© Joerg Rieger 2013

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