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Sociological research

Concerns about economic inequality are not restricted to utopians. Research by sociologist Erik Olin Wright focuses on the social harm economic inequality fosters. He lists five basic reasons unchecked economic inequality is harmful to society. 1) "Relatively unequal distributions characteristically generate more human suffering." 2) "Unequal distributions of wealth and income in the present generation characteristically generate inequalities of opportunities for future generations." 3) "Inequalities of income or wealth generate . . . large differences in people's real freedom." 4) "Large inequalities of wealth and income are likely to undermine democracy." 5) "Income inequality may be objectionable because partly because it fractures community . . . and makes social solidarity more precarious" which, he says, threatens "many aspects of the good society—personal security, mutual respect, [and] the provision of public goods." Erik Olin Wright, University of Wisconsin, "Reducing Income and Wealth Inequality: Real Utopian Proposals," Contemporary Sociology 29, no. 1 (Jan. 2000): 143–156, 145.