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Energy, hierarchy and the origin of inequality

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  • Blair Fix

Abstract

Where should we look to understand the origin of inequality? I propose an unusual window of evidence—modern societies. I hypothesize that evidence for the origin of inequality is encoded in the institutional structure of industrial societies. To test this idea, I use a model to project modern trends into the past. This model takes the modern relation between energy, hierarchy, and inequality and creates a hindcast of the origin of inequality. The results are broadly consistent with the available evidence. The model predicts an explosion of inequality with the transition from hunter-gathering to agriculture, followed by a plateau. This finding potentially opens a new window of evidence into the origin of inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Blair Fix, 2019. "Energy, hierarchy and the origin of inequality," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 14(4), pages 1-32, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:plo:pone00:0215692
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0215692
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Blair Fix, 2021. "How the rich are different: hierarchical power as the basis of income size and class," Journal of Computational Social Science, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 403-454, November.
    2. Fix, Blair, 2021. "Living the Good Life in a Non-Growth World. Investigating the Role of Hierarchy," Working Papers on Capital as Power 2021/02, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism.
    3. Fix, Blair, 2021. "Living the good life in a non-growth world: Investigating the role of hierarchy," SocArXiv wem9p, Center for Open Science.

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