Updated on April 8, 2024
Article byPrakhar Gajendrakar
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Egalitarianism Meaning

Egalitarianism refers to a belief system or doctrine in moral and political philosophy that prioritizes the equal treatment of people and attaining social, economic, political, and legal equality. It emphasizes eliminating discrimination based on gender, income, beliefs, and political views.

The term originated from the French word “egal,” meaning “equal.” The ideology was popularised by English philosopher and physician John Locke. His concept of natural equality and law-abiding equality was established and propagated through his political theories. Many countries have partially or completely adopted the egalitarian philosophy. An example of a country with an egalitarian economy is Norway. Furthermore, the egalitarianism synonym includes equalitarianism, equalitarian, impartial, and unbiased.

Key Takeaways

  • Egalitarianism definition portrays it as the philosophy or ideology promoting equality, equal treatment, and non-discrimination.
  • The term originated from the French word “egal,” meaning “equal.” The ideology was popularised by English philosopher and physician John Locke.
  • It emphasizes the elimination of privileges and discrimination based on gender, income, beliefs, and political views.
  • The different types are economic, legal, political, moral, racial, and gender egalitarianism.
  • Examples of countries following it are Scandinavian or Nordic countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland.

Egalitarianism Explained

Egalitarianism holds the idea of equality. The concept advocate for bringing irrevocable equality in all areas of life. It advocates the elimination of socio-economic inequalities by constructing a socio-political arrangement prioritizing equality, employment opportunities, equal access to education and healthcare, and so on, resulting in equal treatment for every human being and improved quality of life. The Marxism theory, including the ideology of communism and socialism, has its roots attached to an egalitarian way of living.

Though it may look hard to accomplish, many countries have adopted this concept and encouraged liberal egalitarianism behavior in their society to maintain people’s law and perspective by empowering them and providing knowledge about it. However, at the same time, many nations establish mixed economic systems taking elements of capitalism and socialism or communism, encouraging competition, a free-market economy, and an appropriate level of government intervention like the US, disturbing the framework supporting complete or perfect equality.

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Some of the significant types are the following:

  • Economic: It refers to the type that portrays an equal opportunity to get wealth and access all the resources required. It is also sometimes called material egalitarianism. Socialism and communism are favorable environments for it, unlike capitalism, because socialism and communism restrict the free-market economy, and capitalism makes rich people richer.
  • Legal: It induces an ecosystem where people have equal legal rights and come under the same law. Everyone is equal under the law regardless of their social and economic status, and no individual has a special legal right over another person.
  • Political: It advocates for a social setup where no citizen is given different or comparatively better treatment and power than other citizens. It emphasizes people’s right to have equal privilege and power in every aspect of life. It states that every citizen should be treated equally and not be subjected to discrimination based on social status, caste, religion, political preference, etc.
  • Moral: It states that all people are of equal worth. Therefore, people should respect each other equally and deserve freedom from discrimination. 
  • Racial: This type propagates the idea of eliminating discrimination against anyone based on their racial or ethnic group. It involves the awareness of the equality of human beings and that no race is superior to another. There were different phases of slavery and abuses suffered by people who were not considered superior or equal. Given the thought over this, philosophers believe that it is essential for racial egalitarianism to happen.
  • Gender: The ideology specifies the importance of equal treatment for men and women. They should have equal exposure and access to every opportunity in the world. For example, equality in the workspace is ensured by providing equal roles, responsibilities, and pay.


Explaining why Scandinavian women are envied by most women worldwide demonstrates an egalitarianism example. Entrenching and following the concept of equality played a prominent role in the growth and development of Scandinavian countries. Scandinavians look at morality from a secular point of view and are less interested in controlling women’s behavior and activities. They prefer a social and economic system with job opportunities for everyone. They have trade unions that promote gender equality, and the public sector provides women good job opportunities. Altogether, factors like small wage gaps, low unemployment, equal access to education and healthcare, and even distribution of wealth played an important role in the highest standard of living enjoyed by the people.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Define egalitarianism?

It is the belief that everyone has equal fundamental worth, authority, and legal standing, promoting individualism. Its characteristics include equal access to resources and opportunities for people. It is also known as equalitarianism, and examples of countries that follow equalitarianism include Norway, Sweden, and Iceland.

What is gender egalitarianism?

The concept emphasizes the significance of treating men and women equally. It advocates for gender equality in political leadership, work, income, and education. They need to be equally exposed to and given access to all available opportunities. For instance, establishing equal titles, duties, and remuneration ensures equality in the workplace.

What is complementarianism vs egalitarianism?

Complementarianism explains that men and women have different roles and responsibilities in most aspects of life. Still, they are complementary and equally important roles and responsibilities, pointing to the occurrence and importance of gender-specific roles. Whereas equalitarianism never favors gender-specific roles.

This has been a Guide to Egalitarianism and its meaning. We explain its definition, types, example, vs. complementarianism, and synonyms. You may learn more from the following articles –

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