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Taylor & Francis
Social Inequality: Forms, Causes, and Consequences / Edition 8

Social Inequality: Forms, Causes, and Consequences / Edition 8

by Charles E. Hurst


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Social Inequality: Forms, Causes, and Consequences / Edition 8

This text explores how social inequality in the United States can be explained, 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.

For the fifth edition:

  • An examination of the pros and cons of globalization has been added to the chapter on globalization (Ch. 8).
  • A powerful, in-depth discussion of socioeconomic status of homosexuals and legal discrimination demonstrates how sex, sexual orientation, and gender lead to discrimination in the legal system (Ch. 5).
  • Added coverage of environmental racism (Ch. 12) reminds students that economic "resources" are not limited to income, but also to land.
  • The addition of discussion on Herbert Spencer's theories of social inequality (Ch. 9) complements the discussions of the poor and welfare reform in Chapter 16.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 2900205064778
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 01/22/2012
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Charles E. Hurst is emeritus professor of sociology at the College of Wooster in Ohio. His work focuses on issues of social status, comparative poverty and inequality, and the uses of theory in understanding contemporary problems. Recently these interests also include studies of status in Amish communities in Ohio.

Anne M. Nurse is a professor of sociology at the College of Wooster in Ohio. Author of two books and multiple articles on juvenile incarceration and its impact on families and communities, she is an expert on inequality and the criminal justice system. She also teaches courses in statistics, criminology, and research methods.

Heather M. Fitz Gibbon is a professor of sociology at the College of Wooster in Ohio. Her published research focuses on definitions of motherhood within the welfare system and on child care systems. She has also been an active community based researcher, evaluating anti-poverty and family literacy community programs.

Table of Contents

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.


2. Economic Inequality.
Technology and the Shaping of the U.S. Class Structure.
Structure of the U.S. Class System.
Income Inequality.
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.
Ruling-Class Unity.

8. U.S. Inequality in Comparative Perspective.
Industrialization and Globalization.
Differences in Quality of Life.
Economic Inequality.
Gender Inequality.
Racial/Ethnic 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.


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.


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.
Poverty Programs.
Flaws in Pre-1996 Assistance Programs.
Reform in Public Welfare Reform.
Suggestions for Reducing Inequality.

Glossary of Basic Terms.



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