This opening chapter in many ways sets the scene for what is to come in the rest of the book. The social scientific concept of ‘equality’ has a long history of being oversimplified as a result of being too closely identified with the commonsense view of equality as meaning ‘sameness’. To promote equality has, for many people, meant to promote sameness, to see difference as a problem to be solved or a difficulty to be avoided (see Practice Focus 1.1 below). This tendency to misinterpret the idea of equality can be seen to have had two sets of unfortunate and unhelpful consequences: 1.Some people have rejected the idea of promoting equality, regarding it as an illegitimate goal as they recognize that trying to make everybody the same is not socially useful and is personally disempowering for individuals.2.Others have regarded promoting sameness as a legitimate goal to pursue, and have therefore taken steps to reduce or remove difference, in the mistaken view that this is a legitimate and helpful thing to do.
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