Durable Inequality (Irene Flecknoe Ross Lecture)

Durable Inequality (Irene Flecknoe Ross Lecture)

Charles Tilly

Language: English

Pages: 310

ISBN: 0520221702

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Charles Tilly, in this eloquent manifesto, presents a powerful new approach to the study of persistent social inequality. How, he asks, do long-lasting, systematic inequalities in life chances arise, and how do they come to distinguish members of different socially defined categories of persons? Exploring representative paired and unequal categories, such as male/female, black/white, and citizen/noncitizen, Tilly argues that the basic causes of these and similar inequalities greatly resemble one another. In contrast to contemporary analyses that explain inequality case by case, this account is one of process. Categorical distinctions arise, Tilly says, because they offer a solution to pressing organizational problems. Whatever the "organization" is—as small as a household or as large as a government—the resulting relationship of inequality persists because parties on both sides of the categorical divide come to depend on that solution, despite its drawbacks. Tilly illustrates the social mechanisms that create and maintain paired and unequal categories with a rich variety of cases, mapping out fertile territories for future relational study of durable inequality.

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individualized the mobility process while OF E S S E N C E S AND B O N D S 33 obscuring such causes as changes in hiring practices and the formation of job-finding networks by migrants. In an earlier review of the Christopher Jencks et al. Inequality (1972), Stinchcombe had made the essential distinction between two ways of representing inequality among paired persons: first as a difference in the positions of the two individuals with respect to similar variables, second as a characteristic

enact rituals recognizing the relevant networks, boundaries, and relations; and represent them by symbolically explicit devices such as uniforms, badges, and organization charts. Interior categories include those that bound the organization itself, separating members from nonmembers. Exterior categories, in contrast, do not originate in a given organization, but they often install systematic differences in activities, rewards, power, and prospects within that organization; they come from outside.

accrued to mixed-race families who could "pass" for white, great anxieties about purity of blood, strenuous efforts at constructing genealogy in support of white claims to superiority. A similar, often equally pernicious, process unfolds at national and international scales in the creation of ostensible nations whose spokespersons claim priority within the native territory. Where rewards such as statehood, military aid, or preferential access to land accrue to leaders who assert credibly that

ultimately from direct effects accumulated in individual or collective experience. From one situation to another, the effects of differential nutrition, information, education, socialization, belief, and emotional experience carry over as on-the-average categorical differences in performance. Indirect effects include a variety of attributes that people carry around with them quite individually: personal styles, emotional sensitivities, knowledge, responses to frustration, and more. All of them

substitute new beliefs. A relational analysis revises that belief-centered account. In a relational view, categorical beliefs result from categorical relations and practices. Beliefs accumulate and change as a consequence of improvisation with social interaction. Once in place, nevertheless, beliefs justify, fortify, and constrain social interaction. Lifetimes of unequal male/female relations inculcate the stories people tell about gender differences, making them seem natural and inevitable. The

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