On Thursday the 4th of May in Lecture Theatre A of University Place, Sam Bowles delivered his lecture on the past and future of inequality. And to many of our minds it was perhaps the most rigorous exploration of the subject we have yet seen.
Quite unlike many other talks on inequality, Sam traced inequality back right to the dawn of agriculture, looking at the foundational bases of inequality and how they may or may not carry into the future. He seemed to conceptualise the economy in a way that was quite different and in many ways more relevant than how it is normally approached, perhaps this was because of how interdisciplinary his studies were. For example, he brought psychological and biological studies to great effect, to assess to what extent our innate capacities affect inequality in a given society, this is something that economics as a discipline rarely does.
All this was backed up by the rigorous application of the scientific method and loads of fieldwork, everything was backed up by big studies with graphs, data points and reasonable abstractions based on them. Leaving me, and many others, feeling like we could do with a bit more science in our social sciences.
What was really almost amusing about the talk was when questions based on the classic: ‘nature vs. nurture’ were asked, which many of us to assume to be some kind of unanswerable point of controversy, was answered by Sam in a calm and reasoned manner, leaving us with a pretty good idea of which one it is. I wouldn’t want to try and sum up in any half baked way what he said, so catch the podcast on our Facebook page. It’s riveting we assure you, as well as quite juicy during the question time!
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