Inequality concerns persisting and widespread disparities among the resources available for people to sustain themselves and their families in secure and healthy ways, to make adequate provision for their old age, to take advantage of amenities beyond bare subsistence, to participate in political or community affairs, to engage in volunteer activities, and to pursue valued long-term goals such as succeeding in their occupations or developing talents (as for artistic enjoyment and creation or engagement in hobbies or sports). The contrast is a social ideal where, as several political philosophers conceive of it, distribution of resources is sufficient for everyone to have realistic a chance of leading a meaningful, satisfying, or happy life.
CBC radio’s The Current hosted a panel discussion on the findings of the Three Cities research. “For the purposes of the study, David Hulchanski has defined the middle class in economic terms. But for a lot of people, the idea of middle class extends much more broadly than that. For their thoughts on what it means to be middle class and what role the idea of middle class plays in our society, we were joined by three people. Frank Cunningham is a professor emeritus of philosophy and political science at the University of Toronto’s Cities Centre; Linda Gerber is a Sociology professor at the University of Guelph. And John Ralston Saul is … well, John Ralston Everything. Philosopher, essayist, activist and novelist. He is also the president of International PEN, co-chair of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, and author whose latest book is a biography of Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine and Robert Baldwin.