The article is devoted to the analysis of trends and political aspects of social inequality. The author argues that the issues of inequality move to the center of sociopolitical relations. The future of modern civilization largely depends on the transition to positive patterns of inequality and social justice that promotes formation of growth potential and social cohesion. But the process is highly controversial: the type of inequality based on material wealth is still a dominant feature. Since the end of the 20th century social policy in Western countries has undergone inadequate changes. The growing impact of global competition enhances the growth of poverty and social inequality which is associated with significant increase in unemployment, disproportionate trends in income growth of social and professional groups, and cuts in social programs. There are signs of restructuring of inequality patterns. Despite some improvements, social inequality and poverty are significant and remain a serious problem throughout the world, including developed countries. This leads to the rise of the proportion of citizens who experience a direct decline in living standard. The threat is that high levels of inequality define considerable distinctions in social opportunities that create a permanent and deep conflict of social interests which can be transferred to the political level. As a result, the European social model which has contributed to significant poverty reduction, promoted social growth and social cohesion is under increasing pressure. As for Russia, it needs a strategic consolidation with high degree of social cohesion on major issues, especially of internal development. The perspective depends on the amplification of factors of cohesion, and therefore, measures designed to tackle extreme inequality and narrow the space of social injustice. This involves transformation of sociopolitical strategy aimed at the alignment of social opportunities, the growth of progressive taxation of super-high revenues, capital and wealth. Russia needs a socially balanced political strategy with the emphasis on the adequate contribution to the process of modernization from social groups which control the most part of national wealth. Achieving social and political consensus in Russia on these issues is essential and can open the door to stable and long-term social cohesion, effectively address the strategic issues of sustainable development and growth of social welfare.