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Facing an Unequal World.

To face an unequal world requires us to interpret and explain it, to be sure, but also to engage it, that is, to recognize that we are part of it and that we are partly responsible for it. In other words, inequality is not just something external to us, but also invades our own world. I begin, therefore, by examining the global community of sociology through the lens of inequality. I then consider two recent perspectives on our unequal world from outside sociology: the moral radicalism of Pope Francis that emphasizes exclusion from market society, and the innovative research of the economist Thomas Piketty that emphasizes unequal inclusion in market society. These two faces of global inequality mirror the social movements reverberating from the economic crisis of 2008 but which have their roots in a reaction to a broader wave of marketization, the third to engulf modern capitalism. To explore the meaning of third-wave marketization, otherwise known as neoliberalism, and the social movements it provokes I draw on two concepts from Karl Polanyi – ‘fictitious commodities’ and ‘countermovement’ – as well as a theory of the dynamics of capitalism. I conclude with three challenges facing a global sociology that centers social movements: to develop a theory that speaks to the globally diverse experiences of commodification; to develop a methodology that recognizes that we are unavoidably participants in the world we study; and to develop a politics that defends a particular vision of that world, a vision that has defined the sociological tradition from its beginning, namely one that upholds the centrality of civil society against the over-extension of market and state.