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World Social Science Report 2016


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Challenging Inequalities: Pathways to a Just World

Never before has inequality been so high on the agenda of policy-makers worldwide, or such a hot topic for social science research. More journal articles are being published on the topic of inequality and social justice today than ever before.

This is the Summary of the 2016 World Social Science Report. It draws on the insights of over 100 social scientists and other thought leaders from all over the world, across various disciplines, to emphasize transformative responses to inequality at all levels, from the grass-roots to global governance.

It concludes that:

  • unchecked inequality could jeopardize the sustainability of economies, societies and communities;
  • inequalities should not just be understood and tackled in terms of income and wealth: they are economic, political, social, cultural, environmental, spatial and knowledge-based;
  • the links and intersections between inequalities need to be better understood to create fairer societies;
  • a step change towards a research agenda that is interdisciplinary, multiscale and globally inclusive is needed to inform pathways toward greater equality.

In short, too many countries are investing too little in researching the long-term impact of inequality on the sustainability of their economies, societies and communities. Unless we address this urgently, inequalities will make the cross-cutting ambition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ‘leave no one behind’ by 2030 an empty slogan.

The World Social Science Report 2016 was prepared by the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), and is co-published with UNESCO.


Hard copies are available from UNESCO Publishing:

This report should be cited as follows: ISSC, IDS and UNESCO (2016), World Social Science Report 2016, Challenging Inequalities: Pathways to a Just World, UNESCO Publishing, Paris.

ISBN 978-92-3-100164-2



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