equalism – for a fairer world

one word .. just try it .. use it .. share it .. discuss it here

The Social GRACES


This blog is organised with the help of the Social GRACES.

This approach comes from the field of systemic family therapy. The word links to a way to remember the many areas of difference between individuals and groups of people where unequal power or access and social prejudice are well known to be active and lead to discrimination too. 

Therapists and other helping professionals need be aware of the inequalities of service access, in the therapy room and in their clients’ life situations. But equalism in bigger systems than therapy is even more complicated. Yet wider thinking and legislation increasingly requires us all to address these issues. The philosopher, Peter Singer, argues and campaigns that we should extend our concern to animals as well, not just human beings. This would add “speciesism” to the list of inequalities – animals being even less able to argue their own case though they can be considered to have similar rights to life and comfort, and to suffer, as humans do.

Huge progress has been made for example in equality of access to services for those with disabilities, and in seeing things and people that services were blind to in the past such as child and domestic abuse. Linked to these improvements though, there is evidence that services may openly admit to refusing to “see” eg men, fathers or male victims of abuse. This serious failure can be traced to ideological thinking that equalism can improve. Read more about this on More on feminism, patriarchy and family conflict.

So here on equalism.org.uk we propose to make more explicit the positive value of fairness across diversity that unites the Social GRACES by using the name: equalism.


It is normal for most people to be unaware of much of the way inequalities and differences happen. We may be so familiar with our thinking and assumptions that our contribution to inequalities can be unintentional. One way to help us become intentionally more positively aware, sensitive and respectful is the Social GRACES.  It refers to a systemic approach to therapy and provides a way to remember a long list of common areas of unequal difference (Burnham et al, 2008; and Burnham, 2011).

The full word is GGRRAAACCEEESSS. The letters stand for the following categories  –  some of the related -isms are added in brackets:

Gender (Sexism), Geography; Race (Racism), Religion; Age (Age-ism), Ability, Appearance; Class, Culture; Ethnicity, Education,   Employment; Sexuality, Sexual orientation, Spirituality

One to be added yet is: Relationship or Status (Single, Cohabiting, Married, Divorced, Children, etc). It’s important to remember that often individuals will not fit neatly into any particular place, race, religion etc. Even gender is not as binary as most people think. So the application of equalism is easiest when it is a particular process being worked on by particular people in particular circumstances. That is a good place to help quality thinking start. But the harder application of equalism is in the bigger social systems and their government.

Socially GRACEful blogging

These categories shape this site. The menu is organised under these categories. They will always be found to the right of any particular blog article. In due course we want all the categories to fill up with posts from people who know more about all the topics.

We want your views also on the general idea of equalism as a uniting -ism and whether you agree that it’s the best word. But we also want people who know more about all the different categories to write about their application of this idea in their own fields of interest. So please do contact us, make your comments and feedback, and suggest guest bloggers. Like the menu suggests.

Read more on how different equalist issues contradict in More on equalism in general.

Many thanks


John Burnham, Diane Alvis Palma and Lisa Whitehouse (2008)   Learning as a context for differences and differences as a context for learning.  Journal of Family Therapy (2008) 30: 529–542

John Burnham (2011) Developments in Social GRRRAAACCEEESSS: visible-invisible and voiced-unvoiced. Chap 7, pp 139-160  In Culture and Reflexivity in Systemic Psychotherapy: Mutual Perspectives. Inga-Britt Krause (ed).  Karnac: London

About Nick Child

Retired child and family shrink and family therapist living, working and playing in Edinburgh.

Helpful comments and suggestions please:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: