- Date: 1905
- 1 : a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs
- 2 : a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people
Egalitarianism (derived from the French word égal, meaning "equal") has two distinct definitions in modern English. It is defined either as a political doctrine that holds that all people should be treated as equals and have the same political, economic, social, and civil rights or as a social philosophy advocating the removal of economic inequalities among people.
In modern cultures, peoples tend to be divided into upper and lower classes. However, before the relatively recent agricultural revolution, humanity existed in primarily hunter-gatherer societies that, some believe, were at least largely egalitarian. It is considered by some to be the natural state of society. Social inequality has been shown to cause many social problems. A comprehensive study of major world economies revealed that homicide, infant mortality, obesity, teenage pregnancies, emotional depression and prison population all correlate with higher social inequality.