American society is stratified by several factors, including race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and political leanings. Social Inequality explores the origins of this stratification, how it affects us, and what can be done about it. The book is based on the assumptions that social inequality is multidimensional and that in order to deal with inequality and its consequences we need to understand the theories behind it. Taking a historical and social structural approach, the author simply but compellingly gives a sense of the pervasiveness of social inequality and how it affects us all.
All chapters conclude with “Summary,” “Critical Thinking,” and “Web Connections.”
1. An Introduction to the Study of Social Inequality.
Some Controversial Issues of Substance.
Issues of Methodology.
Organization of the Book.
I. FORMS OF SOCIAL INEQUALITY.
2. Economic Inequality.
Technology and the Shaping of the U.S. Class Structure.
Structure of the U.S. Class System.
Is the Middle Class Shrinking?
Wealth Inequality in the United States.
3. Status Inequality.
The Theory of Social Status.
Bases of Status in the United States.
4. Sex and Gender Inequality.
The Status of Women in the Early United States.
Present Occupational and Economic Conditions for Women.
Microinequities in the Treatment of Women.
General Theories of Sex and Gender Inequality.
5. Sexual Orientation and Inequality.
The Complexity of Sexuality and Gender.
Public Opinions on Homosexuality.
Homosexuals as a Status Group.
Discrimination, Legal Confusion, and Sexual Orientation.
A Socioeconomic Profile of Homosexuals.
Negative Consequences of Stigmatization.
6. Racial and Ethnic Inequality.
Race, Ethnicity, and Inequality in the United States: A Brief History.
Racial Inequality Today.
Microinequities in the Treatment of Racial and Ethnic Minorities.
The Intersection of Class, Race, Sex, and Gender.
Theories of Racial and Ethnic Inequality.
7. Political Inequality.
Portraits of National Power Structure.
Distribution of Political Power.
Interlinkage of Economic and Political Power.
8. U.S. Inequality in Comparative Perspective.
Industrialization and Globalization.
Differences in Quality of Life.
II. GENERAL EXPLANATIONS OF INEQUALITY.
9. Classical Explanations of Inequality.
Karl Marx (1818-1883).
Max Weber (1864-1920).
Emile Durkheim (1858-1917).
Herbert Spencer (1820-1903).
10. Modern Explanations of Inequality.
Functional Theory of Stratification.
Theories of Social Construction and Reproduction.
Labor-Market Theories of Income and Earnings Distribution.
III. CONSEQUENCES OF SOCIAL INEQUALITY.
11. The Impact of Inequality on Personal Life Chances.
Basic Life Chances: Physical Health.
Health-Care Costs and Inequality.
Basic Life Chances: Psychological Health.
Basic Life Chances: Food and Shelter.
12. Crime, Protest, and Inequality.
Violence in the Family.
Inequality and the Measurement of Crime.
Street Crime and Inequality.
White-Collar Crime, Corporate Crime, and Punishment.
Hate Crimes and Inequality.
Structured Inequality and Collective Protests.
Social Inequality and Environmental Equity.
IV. STABILITY AND CHANGE IN THE SYSTEM OF SOCIAL INEQUALITY.
13. Trends in Mobility and Status Attainment: Openness in U.S. Society.
Questions Concerning Openness.
Methodology in the Study of Mobility.
U.S. Mobility over Time.
Comparative Studies of Mobility.
Status Attainment: What Determines How Far One Goes?
Mobility and Attainment Process Among African-Americans.
Patterns of Mobility and Attainment Among Women.
Some Observations on Studies of Status Attainment.
14. Justice and Legitimacy: Assessments of the Structure of Inequality.
U.S. Attitudes About the Distribution of Income and Wealth.
What Is a Just Distribution?
Bases for the Legitimization of Structured Inequality.
15. Social Inequality and Social Movements.
The Early Labor Movement.
The Civil Rights Movement.
The Women's Movement.
Inequality, Context, and Social Movements: A Synthesis.
16. Addressing Inequality and Poverty: Programs and Reform.
Addressing the Problem of Inequality.
The Conundrum of Defining Poverty.
Levels of and Trends in Poverty.
Perceptions of the Poor.
Flaws in Pre-1996 Assistance Programs.
Reform in Public Welfare Reform.
Suggestions for Reducing Inequality.
Glossary of Basic Terms.