Essay on the Key Features of Equality as a Political Concept

Published: 2021/11/23
Number of words: 1367

In political science, equality can be interpreted as a self-governing society’s main assumption. As a political concept, equality never involves complete equality. In other words, the concept refers to reward for all people and the treatment of people with full equality. It is required as natural equality, which is not absolute. For instance, people are believed to be born freely and naturally. However, irrespective of emotional appeals to people’s hearts, it is impossible to achieve natural and absolute equality (Merkel, 2018). People are neither equal in regard to mental capabilities and physical characteristics. As some people are naturally stronger, others are more intelligent. In that regard, equality as a political concept entails general as well as fair equality as opposed to absolute equality.

Theoretical Perspective

A variety of theories have been formulated to offer insights on the term. Majority of these theories notes that equality never aims at the identity of treatment because the physical and intellectual capacities of people profoundly differ. In fact, the concept opposes inequitable treatment and advocates for equal opportunities that could allow individuals to develop their inner potentiality. John Locke and Thomas Hobbes came up with political authority’s contemporary notion in the 17th century (“Civilserviceindia,” (n.d)). The scholars proclaimed revealed human being’s natural equality. They considered humans in a state of nature and emphasized the need for them to make a social contract that will enable them to attain mutual benefit.

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The government is thus considered to be created from such a social contract. It was developed and endowed with powers to protect citizens. In that regard, it is clear that the government obtained its powers from the governed subjects as opposed to the natural superiority of the ruling elites. Nevertheless, none of the two scholars argued that people could rule themselves with the establishment of the government. Hobbes asserted that individuals require submitting an autonomous, endowed with absolute powers, while Locke noted that they should rather constitutional governance and reserve the right to oppose unjust governments. Therefore, both scholars emphasized natural equality but never recommended political equality.

Key Features of Equality

Equality has a variety of key features. To begin with, advocates for the absence of special privileges in society. In most countries, some people enjoy specialized privileges than others. This implies that most nations all over the world have challenges in the implementation of the principle of equality. If at all equality is to be achieved, there should be no person enjoying a special privilege. For instance, it is common that people coming from royal companies are highly respected and offered opportunities in society. Such privileges are key in widening the gap between the poor and the rich, thereby hindering the embracement of the concept.

The availability of equal and adequate developmental opportunities for all is another key feature of equality. Notably, people will never be the same;instead, they have a difference in mental and physical features. On that account, it is ideal for the provision of equal developmental opportunities. Each and every citizen of any given country should be given an equal opportunity to grow. Equal opportunities will definitely reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. In fact, equal opportunities will see many people improve their standards, thereby leading a better life.

Equal satisfaction of the fundamental needs for all is another critical feature of equality. The fact that it is impossible for one to attain absolute equality makes it necessary for ensuring all individuals’ needs are met (Anderson, 2015). Notably, the society is characterized by people with varying demands. Resultantly, people end up scrambling for the available limited resources, a factor that often promotes inequality. Therefore, it is not ideal for some people to continually be enjoying the luxurious goods whereas others never have even the basic ones. For equality to be achieved, the society must ensure that there is equal satisfaction of all people’s needs. Undoubtedly, with equal satisfaction of basic needs, society will become a better place.

Notably, equality supports the policy of protective discrimination, with the aim of aiding disadvantaged individuals in society. For example, the constitution of most nations offer the right of equality to all but still there exists incorporated provisions providing privileges to specific groups. Equality advocates that all individuals should be treated the same without any with privileges.

Forming Claims Regarding Equality

In formation of claims regarding equality, various aspects are considered.The first aspect is nature, which induces natural equality. Under this form of equality, all humans should be treated equally even though they differ in terms of physical abilities, mental capacities, and psychological characters. Nature dictates that all individuals should enjoy equal rights and freedoms. Hence, there should be no group of people enjoying better opportunities than others.

Social equality is another form of equality that postulates another significant claim. This type of equality advocates for equal opportunities and rights for development and growth of all classes of people without any bias in key aspects such as access to social products, civil rights, and rights to own certain property. Social equality further entails equal obligations and opportunities for the entire population. This form of equality advocates for unavailability of a legally directed social class. It also discourages biases that rise from the inalienable aspect of an individual’s identity. For example, it is wrong for an individual’s sexual orientation, race, religion, political affiliation, or gender lead to unsatisfactory treatment within the law.

Equality claims are also derived from political aspect. In respect to political equality, people require equal opportunities to take part in the political process. In other words, citizens of a given country should be granted equal political rights, which are characterized by uniform qualifications for all (Saunders, 2010). This kind of equality develops as a result of the need for all citizens to enjoy similar political rights, similar influence in the government, and equal chances to take part in the political process. Many countries such as Britain and the US have put in place universal adult suffrage to promote this kind of equality.

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Economic equality is another source of the concept’s claim. This kind of equality advocates for adequate as well as fair opportunities for all individuals to work and earn a living. Notably, economic equality never implies the embracement of equal treatment or wages for all individuals (Dixon, 2010). In fact, it seeks to fulfill the primary needs of all individuals before gratifying the special needs of few. In regard to economic equality, the emphasis lies on the equitable distribution of resources to reduce the gap between the poor and the rich. For economic equality to be achieved, capitalism should be discouraged while encouraging socialism.


Equality is a significant concept in the political arena. As postulated by various scholars, equality is a concept that advocates for fair equality as opposed to an absolute one. The key features of equality include the absence of special privileges in the society, the presence of equal development opportunities, equal fulfillment of basic needs, and supportive to discriminative policy. All these features are directed towards ensuring society entails equality. Equality claims arise from the aspect that requires justice such as political, economic, natural, and social. Each of such elements postulates various claims about equality, which works together in making the society a better place to live.


Anderson, E., 2015. Equality and freedom in the workplace: recovering republican insights. Social Philosophy and Policy31(2), pp.48-69. n.d. Equality: Social, political and economic; relationship between equality and freedom; Affirmative action. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2019].

Dixon, K., 2010. Freedom and Equality (Routledge Revivals): The Moral Basis of Democratic Socialism. Routledge.

Merkel, H. 2018. Freedom And Equality In Democracies: There Is No Trade-off! • Social Europe. [online] Social Europe. Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2019].

Saunders, B. 2010. Democracy, Political Equality, and Majority Rule. Ethics121(1), pp.148-177.

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