The Anatomy of Racial Inequality / Edition 1

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Overview

Speaking wisely and provocatively about the political economy of race, Glenn Loury has become one of our most prominent black intellectuals--and, because of his challenges to the orthodoxies of both left and right, one of the most controversial. A major statement of a position developed over the past decade, this book both epitomizes and explains Loury's understanding of the depressed conditions of so much of black society today--and the origins, consequences, and implications for the future of these conditions.

Using an economist's approach, Loury describes a vicious cycle of tainted social information that has resulted in a self-replicating pattern of racial stereotypes that rationalize and sustain discrimination. His analysis shows how the restrictions placed on black development by stereotypical and stigmatizing racial thinking deny a whole segment of the population the possibility of self-actualization that American society reveres--something that many contend would be undermined by remedies such as affirmative action. On the contrary, this book persuasively argues that the promise of fairness and individual freedom and dignity will remain unfulfilled without some forms of intervention based on race.

Brilliant in its account of how racial classifications are created and perpetuated, and how they resonate through the social, psychological, spiritual, and economic life of the nation, this compelling and passionate book gives us a new way of seeing--and, perhaps, seeing beyond--the damning categorization of race in America.

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Editorial Reviews

Charles Tilly
Coolly, clearly, and relentlessly, Glenn Loury traces the devastating effects of racial stigmatization on relations between blacks and whites in America. He uses the analytic tools of economics deftly without for a moment falling into pomp or mystification. No one has better stated the case against presuming that liberal states and free markets will of themselves dissolve unjust inequalities.
Cass Sunstein
According to Glenn Loury, the problem of racial inequality should no longer be seen as one of racial discrimination. The fundamental problem is one of racial stigma, which contributes to the second-class citizenship of African-Americans. This fact-filled, impossible-to-pigeonhole, impressively interdisciplinary book should inaugurate a new and better discussion of racial equality in America--and with any luck, new and better policies as well.
Kenneth J. Arrow
In these lectures, the distinguished economist Glenn Loury has reoriented the public discussion on black-white inequality. He has drawn on economic and sociological analyses to emphasize the historical roots essential to understanding the social stigma which underlies the more overt forms of discrimination and inhibits the development of black capabilities. His analysis implies a critique of liberal individually-based political philosophy, while at the same time recognizing its virtues.
Michael Walzer
This is social criticism at its best. Glenn Loury provides an original and highly persuasive account of how the American racial hierarchy is sustained and reproduced over time. And he then demands that we begin the deep structural reforms that will be necessary to stop its continued reproduction.
Orlando Patterson
This strikingly original book will likely emerge as one of the most important analyses in recent times of America's unyielding problem of "race". In four tight, intensely argued chapters, Loury compellingly elucidates the often tragic "rationality" of discriminatory behavior that results, less from raw racist antipathy than from the logic of self-confirming stereotypes, as well as the role of social stigma, collective dishonor and exclusion, in explaining persisting racial inequalities. In a clear, crisp style, he dissects the simplicities of conservative cultural determinism, the moral and logical limitations of "color-blind" liberal individualism, and the intellectual complacency of the conventional left who would explain all with the dated cry of attitudinal racism. Loury demonstrates once again how the best insights of economics can be integrated with those of sociology and policy studies to untangle the tortuous "cycles of cumulative causation" beneath the nation's most vexing social problem. Powerfully argued, relentlessly honest, and morally engaged, it lifts and transforms the discourse on "race" and racial justice to an entirely new level and may just be the breakthrough text we have long been waiting for.
William Julius Wilson
This is a brilliant book. With an original conceptual framework, Glenn Loury breaks new ground in the study of racial inequality in the United States. His insightful analysis of why "racial stigma" is a more important concept than "racial discrimination" in explaining African American disadvantages and in determining the kinds of reforms needed to address them is bound to generate an important debate among scholars in the field.
New York Times Magazine - Adam Shatz
In [The Anatomy of Racial Inequality] Loury makes a striking departure from the self-help themes of his earlier work, defending affirmative action and denouncing "colorblindedness" as a euphemism for indifference to the fate of black Americans. [The book] offers a bracing philosophical defense of his new views. Returning to an argument he first presented in his dissertation, Loury argues that blacks are no longer held back by "discrimination in contract"--discrimination in the job market--but rather by "discrimination in contact," informal and entirely legal patterns of socializing and networking that tend to exclude blacks and thereby perpetuate racial inequality. At the root of this unofficial discrimination, he says is "stigma," a subtle yet pervasive form of antiblack bias.
New York Times Book Review - Gerald Early
Intellectually rigorous and deeply thoughtful...The Anatomy of Racial Inequality as much as anything, might be considered Loury's declaration of independence, his fully articulated position as a neoliberal...Loury's book deals with racial stigma quite directly, but in its political and philosophical aspects as a cause of black disadvantage...The Anatomy of Racial Inequality is an incisive, erudite book by a major thinker.
Washington Times - Edward C. Smith
[Glenn Loury] explores and explains the continuing struggle to achieve racial parity and social progress. His examination of racial stereotypes are particularly arresting, especially when one considers how many blacks--much to their detriment--not only accept negative images of themselves but seem to be living out and rationalizing them as well...Mr. Loury is a balanced interpreter of American society, so he predictably criticizes both liberals and conservatives for their "simplistic" approaches to resolving racial misunderstandings that all too often contribute to the creation of unnecessary conflicts between the races...[This book is] thought-provoking and insightful and the author's musings on a variety of sensitive subjects certainly merits our attention.
The Crisis - William Jelani Cobb
In The Anatomy of Racial Inequality, Loury assails "race-blindedness" as often (if inadvertently) indifferent to the cause of racial justice. In his view, the degradation of slavery in America translated into an enduring "stigma" that has marginalized the majority of Blacks and negatively affects their life chances. Evidence of this phenomena is to be seen in the vast numbers of African Americans languishing in the nation's prisons...Loury has written a concise and, at times, provocative analysis of the American racial conundrum--one in which he exercises that most central of intellectual virtues: the capacity to change one's mind.
Raleigh News and Observer - J. Peder Zane
Books that make readers truly uncomfortable, that hold up a mirror to our hearts and minds and reflect something horrible and true, are rare. The Anatomy of Racial Inequality by Glenn C. Loury is such a work. A provocative dissection of contemporary white/black relations, it belies the notion that mainstream Americans no longer harbor ugly racial beliefs...His book is a wake-up call for everyone who frames the modern history of race as a happy tale of progress.
Harper's - Anthony Walton
Glenn Loury's new book, The Anatomy of Racial Inequality, paints in chilling detail the distance between Martin Luther King's dream and the reality of present-day America...In page after page of statistics gathered over a period of decades, Loury reveals the true nature of subjugation by race in the United States...[A] scrupulous account.
Educational Researcher - Larry L. Rowley
The Anatomy of Racial Inequality by Glenn C. Loury is a theoretical treatise that attempts to reconfigure and refocus the conceptual perspective from which social scientists construct frameworks for studying and explaining African-American social and economic disadvantage…He presents a compelling look at issues of racial inequality, which ostensibly deals with economic issues by drawing upon other social science fields such as sociology and social psychology. His approach is well conceived and "novel" in that it makes use of the insights of these other fields by applying them to broader aspects of the American social matrix than is traditionally allowed in analyzing economic inequality. He succeeds primarily because he does not restrict his analysis of economic inequality to those constricts and variables that can only be explained by quantitative analysis of economic data, phenomena, and trends…[W]hat is new in Loury's treatise is his contention that their racial stigma should clearly displace racial discrimination as the key conceptual approach to studying and understanding racial inequality…[ The Anatomy of Racial Inequality] provide[s] important contributions to our understanding of the challenges that continue to confront African-Americans socially, educationally, and economically…Loury's work provides ample theoretical fodder and a sound rationale for empirically testing and assessing the structural aspects of these same constructs.
New York Times Magazine

In [The Anatomy of Racial Inequality] Loury makes a striking departure from the self-help themes of his earlier work, defending affirmative action and denouncing "colorblindedness" as a euphemism for indifference to the fate of black Americans. [The book] offers a bracing philosophical defense of his new views. Returning to an argument he first presented in his dissertation, Loury argues that blacks are no longer held back by "discrimination in contract"—discrimination in the job market—but rather by "discrimination in contact," informal and entirely legal patterns of socializing and networking that tend to exclude blacks and thereby perpetuate racial inequality. At the root of this unofficial discrimination, he says is "stigma," a subtle yet pervasive form of antiblack bias.
— Adam Shatz

Globe and Mail
In this fascinating and original book, Loury is both a renowned economist and the director of the Institute on Race and Social Division at Boston University. In this fascinating and original book, he combines those two qualifications to examine why, a century and a half after the abolition of slavery and 50 years past the beginning of the U.S. civil rights movement, there are still such inequalities between whites and African Americans. The result is a thoughtful, interdisciplinary book that argues that it isn't racial discrimination but racial stigma ("which is about who, at the deepest level, they are understood to be") that sustains the inequality.
New York Times Book Review

Intellectually rigorous and deeply thoughtful...The Anatomy of Racial Inequality as much as anything, might be considered Loury's declaration of independence, his fully articulated position as a neoliberal...Loury's book deals with racial stigma quite directly, but in its political and philosophical aspects as a cause of black disadvantage...The Anatomy of Racial Inequality is an incisive, erudite book by a major thinker.
— Gerald Early

Washington Times

[Glenn Loury] explores and explains the continuing struggle to achieve racial parity and social progress. His examination of racial stereotypes are particularly arresting, especially when one considers how many blacks—much to their detriment—not only accept negative images of themselves but seem to be living out and rationalizing them as well...Mr. Loury is a balanced interpreter of American society, so he predictably criticizes both liberals and conservatives for their "simplistic" approaches to resolving racial misunderstandings that all too often contribute to the creation of unnecessary conflicts between the races...[This book is] thought-provoking and insightful and the author's musings on a variety of sensitive subjects certainly merits our attention.
— Edward C. Smith

The Crisis

In The Anatomy of Racial Inequality, Loury assails "race-blindedness" as often (if inadvertently) indifferent to the cause of racial justice. In his view, the degradation of slavery in America translated into an enduring "stigma" that has marginalized the majority of Blacks and negatively affects their life chances. Evidence of this phenomena is to be seen in the vast numbers of African Americans languishing in the nation's prisons...Loury has written a concise and, at times, provocative analysis of the American racial conundrum—one in which he exercises that most central of intellectual virtues: the capacity to change one's mind.
— William Jelani Cobb

Raleigh News and Observer

Books that make readers truly uncomfortable, that hold up a mirror to our hearts and minds and reflect something horrible and true, are rare. The Anatomy of Racial Inequality by Glenn C. Loury is such a work. A provocative dissection of contemporary white/black relations, it belies the notion that mainstream Americans no longer harbor ugly racial beliefs...His book is a wake-up call for everyone who frames the modern history of race as a happy tale of progress.
— J. Peder Zane

Harper's

Glenn Loury's new book, The Anatomy of Racial Inequality, paints in chilling detail the distance between Martin Luther King's dream and the reality of present-day America...In page after page of statistics gathered over a period of decades, Loury reveals the true nature of subjugation by race in the United States...[A] scrupulous account.
— Anthony Walton

Educational Researcher

The Anatomy of Racial Inequality by Glenn C. Loury is a theoretical treatise that attempts to reconfigure and refocus the conceptual perspective from which social scientists construct frameworks for studying and explaining African-American social and economic disadvantage…He presents a compelling look at issues of racial inequality, which ostensibly deals with economic issues by drawing upon other social science fields such as sociology and social psychology. His approach is well conceived and "novel" in that it makes use of the insights of these other fields by applying them to broader aspects of the American social matrix than is traditionally allowed in analyzing economic inequality. He succeeds primarily because he does not restrict his analysis of economic inequality to those constricts and variables that can only be explained by quantitative analysis of economic data, phenomena, and trends…[W]hat is new in Loury's treatise is his contention that their racial stigma should clearly displace racial discrimination as the key conceptual approach to studying and understanding racial inequality…[ The Anatomy of Racial Inequality] provide[s] important contributions to our understanding of the challenges that continue to confront African-Americans socially, educationally, and economically…Loury's work provides ample theoretical fodder and a sound rationale for empirically testing and assessing the structural aspects of these same constructs.
— Larry L. Rowley

New York Times Book Review
Intellectually rigorous and deeply thoughtful...The Anatomy of Racial Inequality as much as anything, might be considered Loury's declaration of independence, his fully articulated position as a neoliberal...Loury's book deals with racial stigma quite directly, but in its political and philosophical aspects as a cause of black disadvantage...The Anatomy of Racial Inequality is an incisive, erudite book by a major thinker.
— Gerald Early
Washington Times
[Glenn Loury] explores and explains the continuing struggle to achieve racial parity and social progress. His examination of racial stereotypes are particularly arresting, especially when one considers how many blacks--much to their detriment--not only accept negative images of themselves but seem to be living out and rationalizing them as well...Mr. Loury is a balanced interpreter of American society, so he predictably criticizes both liberals and conservatives for their "simplistic" approaches to resolving racial misunderstandings that all too often contribute to the creation of unnecessary conflicts between the races...[This book is] thought-provoking and insightful and the author's musings on a variety of sensitive subjects certainly merits our attention.
— Edward C. Smith
Harper's
Glenn Loury's new book, The Anatomy of Racial Inequality, paints in chilling detail the distance between Martin Luther King's dream and the reality of present-day America...In page after page of statistics gathered over a period of decades, Loury reveals the true nature of subjugation by race in the United States...[A] scrupulous account.
— Anthony Walton
New York Times Magazine
In [The Anatomy of Racial Inequality] Loury makes a striking departure from the self-help themes of his earlier work, defending affirmative action and denouncing "colorblindedness" as a euphemism for indifference to the fate of black Americans. [The book] offers a bracing philosophical defense of his new views. Returning to an argument he first presented in his dissertation, Loury argues that blacks are no longer held back by "discrimination in contract"--discrimination in the job market--but rather by "discrimination in contact," informal and entirely legal patterns of socializing and networking that tend to exclude blacks and thereby perpetuate racial inequality. At the root of this unofficial discrimination, he says is "stigma," a subtle yet pervasive form of antiblack bias.
— Adam Shatz
Raleigh News and Observer
Books that make readers truly uncomfortable, that hold up a mirror to our hearts and minds and reflect something horrible and true, are rare. The Anatomy of Racial Inequality by Glenn C. Loury is such a work. A provocative dissection of contemporary white/black relations, it belies the notion that mainstream Americans no longer harbor ugly racial beliefs...His book is a wake-up call for everyone who frames the modern history of race as a happy tale of progress.
— J. Peder Zane
The Crisis
In The Anatomy of Racial Inequality, Loury assails "race-blindedness" as often (if inadvertently) indifferent to the cause of racial justice. In his view, the degradation of slavery in America translated into an enduring "stigma" that has marginalized the majority of Blacks and negatively affects their life chances. Evidence of this phenomena is to be seen in the vast numbers of African Americans languishing in the nation's prisons...Loury has written a concise and, at times, provocative analysis of the American racial conundrum--one in which he exercises that most central of intellectual virtues: the capacity to change one's mind.
— William Jelani Cobb
Educational Researcher
The Anatomy of Racial Inequality by Glenn C. Loury is a theoretical treatise that attempts to reconfigure and refocus the conceptual perspective from which social scientists construct frameworks for studying and explaining African-American social and economic disadvantage…He presents a compelling look at issues of racial inequality, which ostensibly deals with economic issues by drawing upon other social science fields such as sociology and social psychology. His approach is well conceived and "novel" in that it makes use of the insights of these other fields by applying them to broader aspects of the American social matrix than is traditionally allowed in analyzing economic inequality. He succeeds primarily because he does not restrict his analysis of economic inequality to those constricts and variables that can only be explained by quantitative analysis of economic data, phenomena, and trends…[W]hat is new in Loury's treatise is his contention that their racial stigma should clearly displace racial discrimination as the key conceptual approach to studying and understanding racial inequality…[ The Anatomy of Racial Inequality] provide[s] important contributions to our understanding of the challenges that continue to confront African-Americans socially, educationally, and economically…Loury's work provides ample theoretical fodder and a sound rationale for empirically testing and assessing the structural aspects of these same constructs.
— Larry L. Rowley
Publishers Weekly
In this highly persuasive analysis of race stigma in U.S. society, Loury, a political commentator and director of the Institute of Race and Social Division at Boston University, argues that it is not simply racial discrimination (which is "about how people are treated") that keeps African-Americans from achieving their goals, but rather the more complex reality of "racial stigma" "which is about who, at the deepest cognitive level, they are understood to be." Loury argues that the image white Americans have of black Americans as less than full citizens influences policy far more than who African-Americans actually are. Although much of Loury's argument is theoretical (his training as an economist is evident in his proposing and then testing various axioms), he grapples eloquently and vigorously with such concrete examples as affirmative action, arguments about racial IQ differences and racial profiling. He concludes that the employment of color-blind policies will not address widespread racial inequalities since they do not take into account either the external or internal harm done to African-Americans from "a protracted, ignoble history during which rewarding bias against blacks was the norm." Originally given as the W.E.B. Du Bois Lectures at Harvard, Loury's arguments are provocative and productive. (Feb. 8) Forecast: The controversies generated by books as diverse as Herrnstein and Murray's The Bell Curve and Lani Guinier's The Tyranny of the Majority could be replicated by this short, cogently argued book if the public bandwidth is available for it at the time of its release. If not, expect the ideas to bubble up over the years via campus and lobbyist discussion. Copyright 2001Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Loury, the founding Director of the Institute on Race and Social Division at Boston University and author of the 1996 American Book Award winner One by One from the Inside Out, draws on decision theory to explain how racial stigma is constructed and maintained. He also demonstrates how social bias exerts a feedback effect that actually reinforces the stigma associated with being African American. Centering on "thought problems" that are clever but at times convoluted, Loury argues persuasively that "race blindness" in liberal policy is not only cognitively impossible but also counterproductive in eliminating racial inequality. Particularly important is his powerful challenge to the indifference with which American society regards the incarceration of 1.2 million young African Americans. Loury lays this horrific consequence at the feet of racially influenced social policy and patterns of social interaction. Recommended for academic and public collections. Paula R. Dempsey, DePaul Univ. Lib., Chicago Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A fresh, challenging analysis of the racial inequality endured by African-Americans. Loury (Economics/Boston Univ.; One by One from the Inside Out, 1995, etc.) first presented these arguments as the W.E.B. DuBois Lectures at Harvard in April 2000. One of his principal observations is that those who consider racial issues should replace the concept of racial discrimination with that of "racial stigma." People are stigmatized, he says, when they are viewed by others not as individuals but as members of a race. He believes that American blacks have patently suffered the most from stigmatization and identifies slavery as the chief cause. Whites for centuries perceived blacks as inferior; blacks themselves acquired thereby a "spoiled collective identity." Loury argues persuasively, though in a dispassionate scholarly manner, for policies based on what he calls "race-egalitarianism over race-blindness." Policymakers and leaders in the media, he says, should endeavor to consider such issues as the plight of the urban black poor and to recognize-and promulgate-the position that such a situation is intolerable in a society like ours. Addressing the sad statistic that approximately1.2 million black men are currently behind bars, he argues that a key question should be: "What manner of people are WE who accept such degradation in our midst?" Loury accepts some of the principles of affirmative action, though he is careful to observe that he neither favors quotas nor wishes to see any individual of any race denied opportunities he or she has earned. Instead, he advocates policies that would "mitigate the economic marginality of members of historically oppressed racial groups." A certain scholarlydiction sometimes results in sentences with words that clang rather than chime, and Loury occasionally relies on such cliches as "[it's] a bit like closing the barn door after the horses have gone." Nonetheless, there's no question that this is a significant, even crucial text gravid with vital ideas. (22 graphs, 7 tables)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674012424
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2003
  • Series: The W. E. B. Du Bois Lectures Series , #4
  • Edition description: First Harvard University Paperback Editi
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 919,508
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Glenn C. Loury is a distinguished economic theorist. His many scholarly articles include contributions to the fields of welfare economics, game theory, industrial organization, natural resource economics, and the economics of income distribution. He is also a prominent social critic and public intellectual.
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Table of Contents

Preface

1. Introduction

2. Racial Stereotypes

3. Racial Stigma

4. Racial Justice

5. Conclusions

Appendix

Notes

References

Index

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