What are the Subject Headings we can use to find Materials on various kinds of Social Inequality in Human Societies?


ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee

Question/Answer on cataloging issues – August 2016

Question: What are the subject headings that we can use to find materials about various kinds of social inequality in human societies? Are there headings for works about social class, status, and racism?

Submitted By: Tom Durkin, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Many social scientists, including anthropologists, sociologists, and others, are interested in studying and understanding the key social differences between individuals and groups, and how those differences shape the ways that people interact. Social inequality is an important topic of research in the social sciences, and has grown in importance as the public has become concerned with measured increases in indicators of social inequality in the U.S. and elsewhere. The study of social inequality is multifaceted, and traditionally has focused on a wide variety of related measurable or observable indicators of inequality, such as social class and status, social hierarchies, race and ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, wealth and income, educational attainment, profession, material possessions and housing, health, and a long list of other important factors. The list of subject terms associated with the topic of social inequality is enormous. There are many subject terms that are related to inequality, but do not necessarily address inequality directly. This list is intended to just be an introduction to frequently used core terms. For further background reading on social inequality, please see:

  • Barker, C. (2004). “Ethnicity.” In The SAGE Dictionary of cultural studies. London, United Kingdom: Sage UK.
  • Barker, C. (2004). “Race.” In The SAGE Dictionary of cultural studies. London, United Kingdom: Sage UK.
  • Eagly, A. (2009). “Gender roles.” In the Encyclopedia of group processes and Intergroup Relations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Rich, M. A. (2008). “Social inequality.” In the Encyclopedia of race, ethnicity, and society. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Inequality: There are several LC subject terms that address inequality very broadly. Like many of the other subject terms listed below they can be subdivided geographically and topically. It is worth noting that LCSH uses the term “Equality” for materials on Equality, Inequality, Social inequality, Social equality, and Egalitarianism.

Equality — Economic aspects — Thailand.

Marginality, Social.

Power (Social sciences) — United States.

Stereotypes (Social psychology) — Germany.

Class and Social Hierarchy: One of the key areas of social science research into social inequality has been analyzing and interpreting social classes and hierarchies. Social class is generally understood to be a socioeconomic status that determines the ability of members to gain access to and use resources, including other social opportunities such as education or employment. The subdivisions listed are just a few of the many variations possible.

Aristocracy (Social class) — Great Britain.

Caste — India.

Class consciousness — Cross-cultural studies.

Elite (Social sciences) — United States.

Middle class — Kentucky — History.

Social classes — United States.

Social status — Health aspects.

Social stratification — Case studies.

Social structure — China.

Working class — England — London.

Working class African Americans — United States — History — 20th century.

Income and Economic Status: The economic dimension of inequality is fundamental to understanding the ways that resources differentially flow within and between social classes. This subset of subject terms related to inequality and social class is focused on employment and income.

Discrimination in employment — Economic aspects — Econometric models.

Economic status — Health aspects.

Employee selection — Social aspects — Mexico — Econometric models.

Income distribution — Developed countries — Case studies.

Inheritance and succession — Econometric models.

Occupational prestige — Economic aspects.

Poor — England — London.

Poor children — Education — United States.

Poverty — India.

Success — Economic aspects.

Wage differentials — Great Britain — Measurement.

Wealth — Political aspects.

Education: Social class and the related dimension of income are both critically tied to the type and level of educational attainment members of society can achieve. Educational attainment is another core area of social sciences research.

Affirmative action programs in education — United States.

Discrimination in education — United States.

Educational attainment — Econometric models.

Educational equalization — Cross-cultural studies.

School integration — Texas.

Segregation in education — United States.

Race and Ethnicity: The definitions for “race” and “ethnicity” are complicated and hard to pin down. For many social scientists, they are socially constructed categories. Race has been used to designate categories of people based on supposed biological characteristics. Ethnicity is similar, but also usually includes a variety of cultural elements such as music, food, language, or dress. Both categories have been used to impose social inequalities between groups.

Ethnic groups — Wisconsin — Economic conditions.

Race discrimination — United States — History — Econometric models.

Racism — Illinois — Chicago.

United States — Race relations.

There are a significant number of race or ethnicity-specific subject headings. Here are a few examples:

African Americans – Education.

Asian Americans – Wisconsin.

Hispanic Americans — Economic conditions.

Whites — United States — Statistics.

Sex and Gender: Gender roles are designated to individuals based on cultural beliefs related to their socially identified sex. Sex is itself another culturally determined category. Both cultural categories have been used to impose structures of social inequality.

Gays – Employment.

Gender identity — Law and legislation — United States.

Gender identity in education — United States.

Gender identity in the workplace — United States.

Homosexuality — Economic aspects.

Homosexuality and education — Law and legislation

Sex discrimination against women — United States — History — 20th century.

Sex discrimination in education — United States.

Sex discrimination in employment — Law and legislation — United States.

Sex role — Economic aspects.

Sexual division of labor — United States — History — 20th century.

Sexual minorities — Education.

Sexual orientation — Economic aspects.

Transgender people — Legal status, laws, etc. — United States.

Women — Salaries, etc. — Developed countries — History.

Religion: Throughout the world, adherents and practitioners of religions have faced discrimination. Religion is yet another social category that has been used to enforce social inequality.

Anti-Catholicism — Ireland

Antisemitism — Germany.

Discrimination — United States — Religious aspects.

Freedom of religion — United States.

Muslims — Crimes against — United States.

Religious discrimination — United States.