Social inequality refers to relational processes in society that have the effect of limiting or harming a group's social status, social class, and social circle.
Areas of social inequality include access to voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, the extent of property rights and access to education, health care, quality housing, traveling, transportation, vacationing and other social goods and services.
Apart from that it can also be seen in the quality of family and neighbourhood life, occupation, job satisfaction, and access to credit.
If these economic divisions harden, they can lead to social inequality. The reasons for social inequality can vary, but are often broad and far reaching.
Social inequality can emerge through a society's understanding of appropriate gender roles, or through the prevalence of social stereotyping.
Social inequality can also be established through discriminatory legislation.
Social inequalities exist between ethnic or religious groups, classes and countries making the concept of social inequality a global phenomenon.
Social inequality is different from economic inequality, though the two are linked.
Social inequality refers to disparities in the distribution of economic assets and income as well as between the overall quality and luxury of each person's existence within a society, while economic inequality is caused by the unequal accumulation of wealth; social inequality exists because the lack of wealth in certain areas prohibits these people from obtaining the same housing, health care, etc. as the wealthy, in societies where access to these social goods depends on wealth.
Social inequality is linked to racial inequality, gender inequality, and wealth inequality.
The way people behave socially, through racist or sexist practices and other forms of discrimination, tends to trickle down and affect the opportunities and wealth individuals can generate for themselves.
Shapiro presents a hypothetical example of this in his book, The Hidden Cost of Being African American, in which he tries to demonstrate the level of inequality on the "playing field for blacks and whites."
One example he presents reports how a black family was denied a bank loan to use for housing, while a white family was approved.
As being a homeowner is an important method in acquiring wealth, this situation created fewer opportunities for the black family to acquire wealth, producing social inequality.