From income inequality to a fair and solidary society

The Summer Foundation strives for a society in which everyone receives a fair share of what mankind and the earth produce and in which we all contribute our share as well.


Before the division of labour became an essential part of society, men, women and children tended to work side-by-side in family-based agricultural production, often doing different chores, but cooperating in the running of a farm or family business and equally sharing the proceeds of this labour. But due to the division of labour and the specialization of the functions and roles involved in production, nobody works solely for their own consumption anymore. Every worker has been assigned a specific task in the production process and manufactures products to be distributed all over the world; a product he may never even use himself.


In today's world, with a far-advanced international division of labour, workers partly receive their 'share' based on their location in the division of labour; resulting in many not receiving a fair share for the work they put in or for the products they provide. Another reason for unfair income distribution is 'ownerhip': the 'holder' (which can also be the 'shareholders') determine the distribution, and they do so based on the fact that they are 'owner' - which keeps the workers in an unequal dependency; also with regard to the distribution of income. 


The evolution of work and the way we deal with ownership has made world income distribution become more unequal. It has not only led to inequality in incomes between different regions, but it has also led to inequality between high skilled workers and the least qualified. Another income inequality is the one between 'owners' and 'non-owners'. 


To make sure everyone receives a 'fair share', we need transparency and associative discussions between all those involved. Those discussions prevent a world from having 'winners' and 'losers' That is what the Summer Foundation calls 'a solidary world'.


A good example are for instance the 'solidarity cooperatives' or 'multi-stakeholder coops'. These coops represent a new form of open co-operation in which multiple stakeholders (workers, consumers, producers and members of the larger community) work together in a democratic structure of ownership and control.


Another example of a fair and solidary movement is the fair trade movement, which wants producers in developing countries to get a fair share of the sales price in Western shops.


But the Summer Foundation has far more innovative ideas about organizational structures of society. Read them on our website: Ideas and feel free to share yours!


Elske van der Horst

September 2015


Sources: Eldis, Academia, Institute of Global Economics and Finance, The Social Organization of Work.


Image: Our Global Friendships


Elske  |  2015 09 16  |  Permalink  |  Share


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