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The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger
     

The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger

3.6 15
by Kate Pickett, Richard Wilkinson, Clive Chafer (Narrated by)
 

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Renowned researchers Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett offer groundbreaking analysis showing that greater economic equality-not greater wealth-is the mark of the most successful societies, and offer new ways to achieve it.

Overview

Renowned researchers Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett offer groundbreaking analysis showing that greater economic equality-not greater wealth-is the mark of the most successful societies, and offer new ways to achieve it.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Popular wisdom would tell us that poverty is the breeding ground for many of society's ills. But British academics Wilkinson (emeritus, Univ. of Nottingham Medical Sch.) and Pickett (senior lecturer, Univ. of York) argue otherwise. They've woven together a great deal of international research to show that inequality, not poverty per se, is what contributes most to social problems. The authors not only compare data from a range of countries but also gather data from all 50 states to verify that relationships that exist on a national level also exist on a more local scale. The first element examined is trust as a measure of community life and social relations. Once it is established that people in unequal societies don't trust one another, the stage is set to examine a host of other dystopian problems from mental health to teenage births to social mobility. VERDICT In this fascinating sociological study, the authors do an excellent job of presenting the research, analyzing nuances, and offering policy suggestions for creating more equal and sustainable societies. For all readers, specialized or not, with an interest in understanding the dynamics today between economic and social conditions.—Carol J. Elsen, Univ. of Wisconsin-Whitewater Lib.
Kirkus Reviews
Predatory capitalism makes some of us poor and some of us rich, of course, but it also makes most of us sick, crime-ridden and mad-or so two British social scientists contend. In a scholarly work that is already exciting widespread discussion outside the academy, Wilkinson (Univ. of Nottingham Medical School) and Pickett (Univ. of York) show that by nearly every measure of the quality of life, societies with high income inequality fare more poorly than those with a more even distribution of wealth. In the United States, writes former labor secretary Robert Reich in the foreword, the top one percent of earners has tripled its share of the economy since 1980-when, not coincidentally, Ronald Reagan came to power and began to deregulate everything. Reich scorns the thought that the Obama administration should be branded socialist for wanting to return some social controls to 1980 and even 1990 levels. Wilkinson and Pickett are measured and even cautious in advancing their interpretations of the data, which are full of curiosities. In unequal countries, for instance, women suffer from greater levels of certain kinds of mental illness than do men, and some diseases-particularly heart-related illnesses and obesity-seem strongly correlated to disparities in wealth distribution. Everywhere, the links between legalized robbery and other kinds of crime are strong. The authors relate much of the problem to the overall phenomenon of anxiety-perhaps not the most scientific of diagnostic words, but one that does the job. Ultimately, they urge a return to the concept that liberty and equality are connected-the idea that they are not "seems to have emerged during the Cold War."A book full of dangerousideas and useful statistics, all worthy of attention, discussion and action. Author tour to New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Ore.
From the Publisher

“Wilkinson and Pickett make an eloquent case that the income gap between a nation's richest and poorest is the most powerful indicator of a functioning and healthy society…Felicitous prose and fascinating findings make this essential reading.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)

“In this fascinating sociological study, the authors do an excellent job of presenting the research, analyzing nuances, and offering policy suggestions for creating more equal and sustainable societies. For all readers, specialized or not, with an interest in understanding the dynamics today between economic and social conditions.” —Library Journal

The Spirit Level will change the way you think about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, especially if you live in the United States. You will reexamine what it means to be successful, how you will seek and achieve personal satisfaction, and what you owe your fellow citizen.” —Jo Perry, BookBrowse.com

“It has taken two experts from the field of public health to deliver a major study of the effects of inequality on society. Though Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett are British, their research explores the United States in depth, and their work is an important contribution to the debate our country needs.” —Robert B. Reich, from the foreword

“Might be the most important book of the year.” —Guardian

“Fascinating and deeply provoking…The Spirit Level does contain a powerful political message. It is impossible to read it and not to be impressed by how often greater equality appears to be the answer, whatever happens to be the question. It provides a connection between what otherwise look like disparate social problems.” —David Runciman, London Review of Books

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781452605050
Publisher:
Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date:
11/21/2011
Edition description:
Unabridged CD
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Richard Wilkinson is a professor emeritus of social epidemiology at the University of Nottingham Medical School, a visiting professor at the University of York, and an honorary professor at University College London. He has played a formative role in international research on inequality, and his work has been published in ten languages. He is also the author of Unhealthy Societies: The Afflictions of Inequality and The Impact of Inequality: How to Make Sick Societies Healthier. Kate Pickett is a professor of epidemiology in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York and a National Institute for Health Research career scientist. She studied physical anthropology at Cambridge, nutritional sciences at Cornell, and epidemiology at Berkeley, and spent four years as an assistant professor at the University of Chicago. Kate is also a cofounder of the Equality Trust, an organization dedicated to campaigning for greater social equality. Clive Chafer is a professional actor, director, and producer, as well as a theater instructor. Originally from England, he has been an Equity member for over twenty years and has performed and directed at many theaters in the San Francisco area, where he makes his home, and in Utah and Wisconsin. In 1993, he founded TheatreFIRST, Oakland's only professional, season-producing theater company, where he served as artistic director until 2008. Clive received his B.A. from Leeds University and his M.F.A. in staging Shakespeare from Exeter University in 2000. He teaches classical dramatic literature and other subjects at the University of San Francisco. He is also a linguist and naming consultant, and has developed several high-profile brands for companies such as Apple Computer, Subaru, and PayPal.

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Spirit Level 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
EGHunter01 More than 1 year ago
A favorable review: insightful, informative, and educational. Quote from page 5: ".the truth is that both the broken society and the broken economy resulted from the growth of inequality." - taken from, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger by Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett (2009). Here is part of a quote on page 18: ".modern societies are, despite their affluence, social failures." *This book encourages readers to ponder many of our societies "social ills." *Some of its focuses are on changing levels of mental illness {including drug & alcohol addiction}, life expectancy & infant mortality, obesity, teenage pregnancy & birth rates, homicides and imprisonment rates. *This book also encourages the reader to work toward viable solutions to change inequality in the individual societies and the global society. Here is a quote to consider from page 26: "The services are all expensive, and none of them is more than partially effective." *Some of the message of this book is: ".a country wants higher average levels of educational achievement among its school children, it must address the underlying inequality," and this is a similar message to Michelle Alexander's message in the book, New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness about the inequality of the criminal justice system. ***Inequality breeds mistrust. *This book and the one by Michelle Alexander are worth reading to be enlightened on these topics and consider viable solutions to improve our society and the world, and to consider how to tackle inequality.
Bill922 More than 1 year ago
Highly recommended for anyone who cares about humankind, and where our country and world are headed.
Mybookreview More than 1 year ago
Wilkinson and Pickett have pulled together a large body of research showing that income inequality is the foundation of a wide range of health and social problems. This is probably the number 1 factor that, if addressed, would create the equitable kind of world most of us want to live in. Income inequality is the issue that most needs to be solved. The authors display the information in easy to understand charts and describe the information in easily understandable, only mildy technical language. The solutions the authors propose are not as easy to understand nor to see how they might be implemented. I highly recommend this book.
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