How can we create a fair society?

The way a society is structured has profound consequences for the lives of those living in it and the architecture of opportunity they face.

Baroness Minouche Shafik

How can we create a fair society? How can we create a fair society?
Watch our theme trailer: How can we create a fair society?

In the ‘How can we create a fair society?’ theme, you will explore contrasting understandings of fairness and how these shape our responses to inequality and injustice. While food costs soar and housing prices reach record levels, the combined fortunes of billionaires increase by $2.7 billion each day, leading to calls for reform to level the playing field.

As wealth and income inequality surge while gender and ethnicity gaps widen, we are urgently asking: is this fair? What would a fairer society look like? How do we conceptualise and measure the fairness of our political, economic and social systems? What do we owe each other, and whose responsibility is it to ensure an equitable approach?

This module explores the tensions between competing understandings of fairness and asks how we can draw on social scientific expertise to create a fair society. From across the boroughs of London to the precarious labour markets of the Global South, we will consider what fairness looks like in the 21st century and how we might achieve it.

Throughout LSE100, you will investigate the ways in which systems are transforming and being transformed by complex questions of fairness. You will learn to use the tools and frameworks of systems thinking in order to analyse the impacts of inequalities, broaden your intellectual experience, and deepen your understanding of your own discipline as you test theories, evidence and ideas from different disciplinary perspectives.


7 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the Autumn Term. 7 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the Winter Term.

90-minute seminars take place in alternate weeks. Students will attend an LSE100 seminar in either weeks 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 or weeks 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 of both Autumn and Winter term.

AT: Seminar – 5 x 90min

WT: Seminar – 5 x 90min

In addition to seminars students will engage with bespoke video lectures featuring academics from across the School (approx. 20 minutes per seminar).

Indicative reading

Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo (2019). Good economics for hard times: better answers to our biggest problems (London: Allen Lane)

Minouche Shafik (2021) What we owe each other: a new social contract for a better society (Princeton University Press).

Janna Thompson (2010), “What is Intergenerational Justice?”, Future Justice, 2010:5-20

Paul Lewis, et al. (2011) Reading the riots: investigating England's summer of disorder. (London School of Economics and Political Science and The Guardian: London, UK)

Thomas Piketty (2015). The economics of inequality. (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press)

Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson (2010) The spirit level: why equality is better for everyone (London: Penguin)

Michael Sandel (2010). ‘Justice and the common good’, in Justice: what is the right thing to do? (Penguin).

Oran R. Young (2017). ‘The age of complexity’ in Governing Complex Systems: Social Capital for the Anthropocene (MIT Press)


Coursework (50%, 1000 words) in the AT. Project (50%) in the WT.

Summative assessment will include an individual written assessment in the Autumn Term (50%) and a collaborative research project in the Winter Term (50%).


Dr. Akile Ahmet (Head of Inclusive Education, LSE Eden Centre for Educational Enhancement). With a research background in Geography and Sociology, Dr. Ahmet has developed innovative research projects examining spaces of power and resistance in Higher Education. She also leads the LSE's Inclusive Education Action Plan.

Dr. Paul Apostolidis (Associate Professorial Lecturer in Government). Dr. Apostolidis' research integrates empirical field research involving Latinx migrant workers in the United States with political and critical theory.

Dr. Manmit Bhambra (Research Officer in Religion & Global Society). Dr. Bhambra's research interests are centred around identity politics and formation, ethnic and national identities as well as the broader themes of Race, Inclusion and Minority rights.

Inderbir Bhullar (Curator for Economics and Social Policy, LSE Library) puts on exhibitions, writes blogs and attempts to connect the Library collections with academics, students and anyone with an interest in finding out more. He has curated exhibitions including 2016's Charles Booth's London.

Dr. Paolo Brunori (Assistant Professorial Research Fellow at the International Inequalities Institute). Dr. Brunori's research focuses on inequalities, and in particular, the type of inequality that people tend to perceive as unfair. His work asks the question: can we measure inequality of opportunity?

Prof. Bart Cammaerts (Professor of Politics and Communication). Prof. Cammaerts' current research focuses on the relationship between media, communication and resistance with particular emphasis on media strategies of activists, media representations of protest, alternative counter-cultures and broader issues relating to power, participation and public-ness.

Daniel Chandler (PhD Candidate in Economics). Mr. Chandler's is an economist and philosopher, based at LSE. His research is concerned with the study of inequalities in the contemporary world. He published his first book, Free and Equal: What Would a Fair Society Look Like?, with Penguin/Allen Lane in 2023. 

Dr. Flora Cornish (Associate Professor in Research Methodology). Dr. Cornish's research is grounded in its transformative potential, examining the role of grassroots mobilisation in improving public health. Her current research looks at the process of community-led recovery in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Prof. Ellen Helsper (Professor of Digital Inequalities). Prof. Helsper's current research interests include the links between social and digital inequalities; mediated interpersonal communication; participatory immersive digital spaces (VR, ER); and quantitative and qualitative methodological developments in media and communications research.

Dr. Armine Ishkanian (Associate Professor of Social Policy). Dr. Ishkanian's research examines the relationship between civil society, democracy, development, and social transformation.  She has examined how civil society organisations and social movements engage in policy processes and transformative politics in a number of countries.

Prof. Naila Kabeer (Professor of Gender and Development). Prof. Kabeer's research interests include gender, poverty, social exclusion, labour markets and livelihoods, social protection and citizenship, and much of her research is focused on South and South East Asia. 

Andrew McNeil (Department of Government) investigates how individuals’ intergenerational social mobility trajectories impact the tendency to vote for anti-establishment parties and more generally form cleavages within society.

Prof. Tim Newburn (Professor of Criminology and Social Policy). Prof. Newburn's research has spanned a number of areas including policing, restorative justice, youth justice, drugs and alcohol, comparative policy making and urban violence. He was the LSE’s lead on Reading the Riots, their prize-winning research with the Guardian on the 2011 disorder.

Prof. Coretta Phillips (Professor of Criminology and Social Policy). Prof. Phillips' research interests lie in the field of race, ethnicity, crime, criminal justice and social policy. She is also involved in a study with minority ethnic young people in London, including those involved in crime but not detected by the police, those deeply entrenched in the criminal justice system, and those uninvolved in crime at all.

Dr. Andrea Pia (Assistant Professor of Anthropology). Dr. Pia is a legal and environmental anthropologist working at the interface between political economy, development, and the critical study of the commons. His regional focus over the last 15 years has been the People’s Republic of China.

Prof. Mike Savage (Professor of Sociology). Prof. Savage's research focuses on the analysis of social stratification and inequality. He has played a major role in the revival of the sociology of social class in recent decades, working to foreground the intersectional and cultural dimensions of social inequalities.

Prof. Wendy Sigle (Professor of Gender and Family Studies). Prof. Sigle has worked on a variety of issues related to families and family policy in historical and contemporary societies. Her quantitative research applies both econometric and demographic methods to the analysis of secondary survey data or data drawn from official government records. 

Dr. Andy Summers (Associate Professor of Law). Dr. Summers' research focuses on the taxation of wealth. His current research includes the examination of capital gains and measurements of inequality.