Academic Leads National Event Exploring Social Inequality

A Robert Gordon University academic recently took a lead role in a national event which explored the inequalities within contemporary British society.

Chris YuillChris Yuill, who is a lecturer in the School of Applied Social Studies at the university’s Garthdee campus, chaired and organised the British Sociological Association’s (BSA) national Equality Lecture.

Held earlier this summer in the British Library in London, the public lecture was delivered by Richard Wilkinson, leading researcher in the study of social inequalities and co-author of the highly influential book The Spirit Level. In his seminar, Professor Wilkinson argued that if the gaps between the rich and the poor in the UK were not as dramatic as they currently are, the UK could begin to reduce the significant inequalities in life expectancy between the top and the bottom of the class spectrum.

Further to this, he also suggested that reductions in inequality could tackle issues associated with crime, violence, obesity, and drug and alcohol misuse. To illustrate his argument, Professor Wilkinson drew on examples from across the globe. He demonstrated that countries such as Sweden and Japan exhibit considerably less problems, which can be directly linked to their high levels of equality.

Mr Yuill, who has sat on the BSA executive committee for a number of years, approached Professor Wilkinson to deliver the annual lecture. The subject matter fitted well with an initiative started by Mr Yuill to popularise sociology and to make the profession more relevant and visible to the general public.

The lecture was attended by a broad cross section of over 170 senior academics, PhD students and members of the public.

“This was an important event which provided social science with a platform to put across key insights about issues of concern,” commented Mr Yuill. “Richard's work informs us about the dangers of inequality and how a society that does not take inequality seriously creates many unnecessary problems, and therefore costs more in social, individual and economic terms. Given we are in a recession his work is more relevant than ever.”

Looking forward, the British Library has expressed interest in making the BSA Equality lecture an annual event. Chris and his colleagues on the executive committee are considering a lecture on social class in the UK today for the 2012 event.


Images of Chris Yuill are available from the Communications Office on request.

Andrew Youngson
Communications Officer | Faculty of Health and Social Care

Robert Gordon University
AB10 1FR
Tel: 01224 262389