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Generally, an ideal of uniformity in treatment or status by those in a position to affect either. Acknowledgment of the right to equality often must be coerced from the advantaged by the disadvantaged. Equality of opportunity was the founding creed of U.S. society, but equality among all peoples and between the sexes has proved easier to legislate than to achieve in practice. Social or religious inequality is deeply ingrained in some cultures and thus difficult to overcome (seecaste). Government efforts to achieve economic equality include enhancing opportunities through tax policy, subsidized training and education, redistributing wealth or resources, and preferential treatment of those historically treated unequally (seeaffirmative action). See alsocivil rights movement; feminism; gay rights movement; human rights; Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on equality, visit Britannica.com.