Equality of Opportunity

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionarypeer-review


The term equality of opportunity means different things to different scholars, policy makers, and popular audiences. This article explores the concept equality of opportunity with a focus on how it is used by students of stratification and social mobility, particularly in sociology. I suggest that a narrow definition of the concept equality of opportunity is the most fruitful one to adopt. Such a definition will lead students of inequality the opportunity to focus their analyses on inequality of results and conditions, rather than debating the conditions under which inequality can be legitimated. After all, equality of opportunity is partly determined by equality of conditions, whereas equality of results is much more visible and less elusive than equality of opportunity in its many interpretations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition
Number of pages3
ISBN (Electronic)9780080970875
ISBN (Print)9780080970868
StatePublished - 26 Mar 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Achievement
  • Ascription
  • Economic inequality
  • Industrialization
  • Inequality of conditions
  • Inequality of educational opportunity
  • Meritocracy
  • Social inequality
  • Social justice
  • Social mobility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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