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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.
Charles Tilly is Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science at Columbia University and former Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Studies of Social Change at the New School for Social Research. Among his recent books are Roads from Past to Future (1997), Work Under Capitalism (with Chris Tilly, 1997), Popular Contention in Great Britain (1995), and European Revolutions (1993).
"Durable Inquality solidifies Charles Tilly's reputation as one of the world's most creative social scientists. It is a work of considerable theoretical scope and imagination. Tilly's original framework clearly reveals and thoroughly explains the similar social processes that create different forms of social inequality."—William Julius Wilson, author of The Truly Disadvantaged
"A highly sophisticated yet extremely accessible reconstruction of a core sociological problem. . . . Durable Inequality is one of those exceptional books that provides both a compelling rereading of familiar issues and an inspiring vision for future research."—Elisabeth S. Clemens, author of The People's Lobby
"In a refreshing book characterized by deep insight into social structure and relations and displaying a rich historical sweep, Tilly has constructed a major challenge to contemporary individualistic interpretations of persistent economic inequality."—Richard A. Easterlin, author of Growth Triumphant
"Clearly the work of a master. . . . The book provides a new and rigorous understanding of one of the key facts of social life."—Bruce G. Carruthers, author of City of Capital
"The insights in this book offer the opportunity to revitalize the study of social stratification with a version of organizational theory, and reconnect both to political sociology."—Neil Fligstein, author of The Transformation of Corporate Control
2000 Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award, American Sociological Association
First annual Eastern Sociological Society Book Award, Eastern Sociological Society