Dr. Tahereh Hojjat gave an exclusive interview to IGI Global

Is Living in an Equal World Just a Pipe Dream?

By IGI Global on May 8, 2018
Dr. Hojjat Today, the world appears more unequal than ever before. The rich seem to get richer and the poor seem to get poorer. With all the wealth and resources that are available, one would think that it should be easy to create a more just and verdant world and eradicate the big problems that are ailing many nations, including issues such as poverty, illiteracy, and conflict. One researcher who has been trying to better understand the roots of inequality and lack of upward mobility on a global scale is IGI Global contributor Dr. Tahereh Hojjat of DeSales University, USA. The co-author of the authoritative reference book, Islamic Economy and Social Mobility: Cultural and Religious Considerations, Dr. Hojjat agreed to share her insights with IGI Global.

What inspired you to pursue research activities in your research area?

Many authors were interested in income inequality globally and the concept of social mobility that explains shifts in class, status, and power within the context of global economic progress. Nevertheless, not much attention was paid to Islamic nations. Thus, we found the gap in scholarly activities in that area and tried to accommodate the deficiencies. Our publication that was published by IGI Global, Islamic Economy and Social Mobility: Cultural and Religious Considerations, adopted a new approach by combining critical analysis as well as functionalist perspective in line with the classic work of the German sociologist, philosopher, and political economist, Max Weber, who brought forth connections between religion and economy.

Why are your respective areas of research important to the field at large?

The concept of social mobility has great value to economists who are interested in the efficiency of resource allocation and progress for all. Discussing stratification, as an empirically universal and observable phenomenon all over the world, from tribal to modern societies, is the core of sociology. The nature and consequences of stratification systems in human societies in the context of social class, race, gender, age, leading to global inequality, require the explanatory power of social sciences. People who consider stratification as a natural phenomenon are often surprised when sociologists explain different forms of inequalities that are only made possible by economic systems adopted by nations. On the other hand, having contrasting viewpoints on the study of stratification makes this field of study unique.

In your opinion, what are some of the benefits of your research to its community of users?

Thanks to my research, the community of users can easily make sense of socio-economic differentiations and the impacts of their belief and cultural systems on their daily activities, particularly within hierarchy systems. The awareness of key social aspects such as social mobility and contributing factors that block such mobility is key to making changes in any society to improve the lifestyle of all.

What are the future directions of your research areas?

A future direction is undeniably on two ubiquitous phenomena. One is the spread of globalization that crosses over national boundaries and its economic and social consequences. The second is the degree of technological advancement in areas of information and the necessary skills to cope with these advancements in competitive economies. It is interesting how both globalization and technological advancements have been considered as factors contributing to more income inequality. It is highly possible that the Newly Industrial Economies (NIEs) will change the course of stratification by moving away from peripheries to get close to the core industrial countries (mostly the Western industrialized countries). Besides that, what will happen in the Middle Eastern and African Islamic societies depends heavily on their investment in the education of millions of young people in search of employment in the tech industry. Lastly, as a female economist, gender inequality is certainly an interesting area of research for me to pursue.

What are some other evolving research trends you have observed in your industry/field over the past several months and what would you say are some of the innovative research directions you foresee in the future? How do you feel your publication sets the pace for these innovations?

Innovative forms of awareness, through media and the Internet, about misery, inequality and natural disasters in certain non-Western low-income societies may be a significant trend that arises. Indeed, the global spread of tech companies will open possibilities for employment and fresh energies, although low and middle-income countries will face tough competitions.

Research on hunger, malnutrition, magnitude of immigration, literacy, and unemployment also remain as open worthy research areas. Moreover, social scientists’ observation of the widening gap between rich and poor is, and will be, a focal point of interest. According to the World Bank, in 2016, the average person in a typical wealthy or core country earned $41,366 a year, as opposed to somebody in low-income countries with just $620. This gap places low-income countries at the bottom of the ladder of global stratification and any type of upward mobility can be very challenging.

Finally, the issues of climate change, sustainability, and aging population are also among research topics that are important to tackle in order to prepare for tomorrow’s challenges.

IGI Global is grateful for the opportunity to work with Dr. Hojjat and her co-author Dr. Hasan Shahpari, and we look forward to seeing more collaboration that will result in the publication of invaluable content. Please be sure to recommend their book, Islamic Economy and Social Mobility: Cultural and Religious Considerations, to your institution. We would like to thank the authors for helping IGI Global cultivate and disseminate emerging concepts and theories in Social Sciences and Humanities.
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