Developed by Seabourne Consulting, experts in Targeted Universalism

Targeted Universalism

Targeted policies and universal policies have been used to develop responses to resolve problems in our society. However, both of these approaches have limitations which restrict their ability to create lasting and large scale change. 

  • Universal policies, such as minimum wage or universal basic income, treat everyone the same, regardless of need or circumstance. Blanketed universal policies can actually deepen inequalities by failing to account for the reality that different groups are situated differently in society.
  • Targeted policies, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), single out and give certain benefits or protections to particular subgroups. Benefits or protections given through targeted policies depend on membership in a specified group or eligibility category, such as income level. Because targeted policies leave out members of other groups, this approach invites resentment and claims of unfairness, making this approach politically unstable and unable to create lasting change.

Targeted Universalism--introduced by Berkeley professor john a. powell of the Othering and Belonging Institute--sets universal goals for the general population that are accomplished through targeted approaches based on the needs of different groups. In this way, targeted universal policies deepen our sense of belonging by working towards a shared goal while also offering a deeper understanding of equity by calling attention to how people are situated differently. By developing strategies for everyone, rather than preference groups alone, suffering experienced across a population can be acknowledged and political resilience can be built. 


5 Steps for Targeted Universalism:

  1. Set a universal goal.

  2. Assess the general population performance relative to the universal goal.

  3. Assess and identify the performance of groups that are performing differently with respect to the universal goal.

  4. Assess and understand the structures and other factors that support or interfere each group from achieving the universal goal.

  5. Develop and implement targeted strategies for each group to reach the goal.

Resources & Tools


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Measures of Income Segregation
Resource - Journal Article
Brought to you by Stanford University
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Implementing Targeted Universalism Case Study: King County, WA
Resource - Case Study
Brought to you by Othering and Belonging Institute
Published on 12/15/2020
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Targeted Universalism: Belonging in Praxis
Resource - Guide/handbook
Brought to you by Othering and Belonging Institute
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Podcast: Targeted Universalism, with john a. powell
Resource - Podcast
Brought to you by Othering and Belonging Institute
Published on 05/08/2019
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Targeted Universalism: Equity 2.0
Resource - Report
Published on 10/25/2016
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How to Generate Consensus for Targeted Universalism
Resource - Policy Brief
Brought to you by FSG Inc.
Published on 07/01/2020
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Racial Economic Inequality Amid the COVID-19 Crisis
Resource - Report
Brought to you by Brookings
Published on 08/01/2020
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Panel: Democracy Institutions, and Systems of Othering & Belonging
Resource - Webinar
Brought to you by Othering and Belonging Institute
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Financial and health impacts of COVID-19 vary widely by race and ethnicity
Resource - Website/webpage
Published on 05/05/2020
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Targeted Universalism: Dialogues of Belonging
Resource - Guide/handbook
Brought to you by Othering and Belonging Institute
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Targeted Universalism: Policy & Practice
Resource
Brought to you by Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society
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Who Belongs?
Resource - Podcast
Brought to you by Othering and Belonging Institute
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Targeted Universalism: Expanding Belonging
Resource - Guide/handbook
Brought to you by Othering and Belonging Institute
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Eight Keys to Bridging Our Differences
Story - Written
Brought to you by Greater Good Science Center
Published on 07/22/2020
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Targeted Universalism
Story - Video
Brought to you by Othering and Belonging Institute
Published on 01/07/2020

Data & Metrics


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 Related Topics


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Universal Basic Income

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Racism