‘The two principal political ideologies of the present age, democracy and socialism, either singly or in various combinations are built,’ writes Beteille, ‘on the premise of equality for all human beings.’ The philosophy underlying the concept of equality emerged mainly out of the concern within modern nation-states with the conditions of the underprivileged section in their societies. The first of the sources of inequality to attract attention was economic, but subsequently race and status, or a combination of these, were also added to the list of inequalities. Therefore, the social scientists were led to focus attention on these indicators of inequality.
Using the Weberian framework, Beteille has tried in this book to discuss the phenomenon of inequality around three important dimensions, namely, status, class and power, but he does not adhere to it rigidly. He adds the dimensions of race to his discussion, thereby transcending the Weberian theoretical framework. This is understandable in view of the great significance enjoyed by race as a factor in both the national politics of certain countries and in international relations.