Sociology and social psychology deal in separate ways with what may be considered the subjective side of inequalities, i.e. the issue of individuals’ perceptions and explanations of and justifications for the inequalities that characterize the society in which they live. Actually, the works of social psychologists in that field remain rather unknown to the majority of sociologists; and this paper aims to elaborate a synthesis of that field. Without aspiring to be exhaustive, it makes a critical assessment of this literature, most of which is from English-speaking countries. It emphasizes that these analyses highlight how much the internalization of inequalities impacts people’s psychology, and that in doing so, they shed light on the mechanisms that entail the reproduction of inequalities. Because they strive to articulate micro and macro perspectives – something that is not simple! – sociologists should be informed of these analyses. However, while about certain issues (whatever be the concepts used) sociologists and social psychologists do reach convergent conclusions – for instance about the fact that judgments about justice are embedded in social interactions –, there remain less consensual points. Sociologists, for instance, commonly contrast the idea of a “belief in a just world” – a crucial notion in psychology – and the very critical judgments of people, especially in France, concerning the fairness of their own society.
- belief in a just world
- social inequalities