Unveiling Inequality: A World-Historical Perspective

Russell Sage Foundation
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Despite the vast expansion of global markets during the last half of the twentieth century, social science still most often examines and measures inequality and social mobility within individual nations rather than across national boundaries. Every country has both rich and poor populations making demands—via institutions, political processes, or even conflict—on how their resources will be distributed. But shifts in inequality in one country can precipitate accompanying shifts in another. Unveiling Inequality authors Roberto Patricio Korzeniewicz and Timothy Patrick Moran make the case that within-country analyses alone have not adequately illuminated our understanding of global stratification. The authors present a comprehensive new framework that moves beyond national boundaries to analyze economic inequality and social mobility on a global scale and from a historical perspective. Assembling data on patterns of inequality in more than ninety-six countries, Unveiling Inequality reframes the relationship between globalization and inequality within and between nations. Korzeniewicz and Moran first examine two different historical patterns—"High Inequality Equilibrium" and "Low Inequality Equilibrium"—and question whether increasing equality, democracy, and economic growth are inextricably linked as nations modernize. Inequality is best understood as a complex set of relational interactions that unfold globally over time. So the same institutional mechanisms that have historically reduced inequality within some nations have also often accentuated the selective exclusion of populations from poorer countries and enhanced high inequality equilibrium between nations. National identity and citizenship are the fundamental contemporary bases of stratification and inequality in the world, the authors conclude. Drawing on these insights, the book recasts patterns of mobility within global stratification. The authors detail the three principal paths available for social mobility from a global perspective: within-country mobility, mobility through national economic growth, and mobility through migration. Korzeniewicz and Moran provide strong evidence that the nation where we are born is the single greatest deter-mining factor of how we will live. Too much sociological literature on inequality focuses on the plight of "have-nots" in wealthy nations who have more opportunity for social mobility than even the average individual in nations perennially at the bottom of the wealth distribution scale. Unveiling Inequality represents a major paradigm shift in thinking about social inequality and a clarion call to reorient discussions of economic justice in world-historical global terms.
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About the author

ROBERTO PATRICIO KORZENIEWICZ is professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park, and profesor titular at the Escuela de Política y Gobierno of the Universidad Nacional de San Martín (Argentina). TIMOTHY PATRICK MORAN is associate professor of sociology and director of Graduate Studies at State University of New York-Stony Brook
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Additional Information

Publisher
Russell Sage Foundation
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Published on
Nov 25, 2009
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Pages
216
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ISBN
9781610446587
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economics / Comparative
Business & Economics / Economics / Macroeconomics
Business & Economics / General
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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McDonald's. Blockbuster Video. Jiffy Lube. Subway. Franchising has become an ever-present feature of the American landscape. One-third of the U.S. gross domestic product flows through franchises, and one out of every sixteen workers is employed by one. But how did franchising come to play such a dominant role in the American economy? What are the day-to-day experiences of franchisees and franchisers in the workplace? What challenges and pitfalls await them as they stake their claim to prosperity? These are just a few of the questions explored in Franchising Dreams, a documentary-like look into the frustrations and uncertainties that entrepreneurs face in their pursuit of the American dream.

Peter M. Birkeland worked for three years in the front-line operations of franchise units for three companies, met with CEOs and executives, and attended countless trade shows, seminars, and expositions. All this firsthand experience gave him unprecedented access to the hopes and aspirations of franchisees. His book closely traces different franchisees and follows them as their dreams of wealth and independence buckle beneath the weight of frustrating logistics and contractual technicalities. Through extensive interviews and research, Birkeland not only discovers what makes franchisees succeed or fail, he uncovers the difficulties in running a business according to someone else's system and values. Bearing witness to a market flooded with fierce competitors and dependent on the inscrutable whims of consumers, he uncovers the numerous challenges that franchisees face in making their businesses succeed.
American society today is shaped not nearly as much by vast open spaces as it is by vast, bureaucratic organizations. Over half the working population toils away at enterprises with 500 or more employees--up from zero percent in 1800. Is this institutional immensity the logical outcome of technological forces in an all-efficient market, as some have argued? In this book, the first organizational history of nineteenth-century America, Yale sociologist Charles Perrow says no. He shows that there was nothing inevitable about the surge in corporate size and power by century's end. Critics railed against the nationalizing of the economy, against corporations' monopoly powers, political subversion, environmental destruction, and "wage slavery." How did a nation committed to individual freedom, family firms, public goods, and decentralized power become transformed in one century?

Bountiful resources, a mass market, and the industrial revolution gave entrepreneurs broad scope. In Europe, the state and the church kept private organizations small and required consideration of the public good. In America, the courts and business-steeped legislators removed regulatory constraints over the century, centralizing industry and privatizing the railroads. Despite resistance, the corporate form became the model for the next century. Bureaucratic structure spread to government and the nonprofits. Writing in the tradition of Max Weber, Perrow concludes that the driving force of our history is not technology, politics, or culture, but large, bureaucratic organizations.


Perrow, the author of award-winning books on organizations, employs his witty, trenchant, and graceful style here to maximum effect. Colorful vignettes abound: today's headlines echo past battles for unchecked organizational freedom; socially responsible alternatives that were tried are explored along with the historical contingencies that sent us down one road rather than another. No other book takes the role of organizations in America's development as seriously. The resultant insights presage a new historical genre.

World-system analyses have recast the study of between- and within-nation country inequality as constituent aspects of a single field of inquiry: the study of inequality and social stratification as processes that always have been global in their very essence. World-system analyses maintain that global social stratification pivots around institutional arrangements that render distributional outcomes as simultaneously “national,” “gendered,” “racialized,” and “global” processes.

This book takes stock of some of the enduring theoretical and empirical contributions of a world-system perspective, and identifies promising directions for future inquiry and discussion. Some chapters reassess the scope and methodologies of world-system analysis around several key problems (e.g., the spatial and temporal boundaries of global commodity chains, the construction and challenge of various dimensions of social inequality, systemic and antisystemic social movements). Others take stock of areas in which world-systems are promoting methodological innovation and/or generating useful global data, and identify questions that demand additional methodological and empirical attention for future research.

In different ways, this book help us to critically reconsider some of the enduring legacies within a world-system perspective (such as Karl Polanyi’s concept of the “double movement,” or the distinction drawn by Giovanni Arrighi or Immanuel Wallerstein between systemic and antisystemic movements). As argued by many of the authors in this book, a world-historical approach calls for greater sensitivity to the manifold ways in which conceptual boundaries change over time and space. Taking seriously the issue of unit of analysis, this book explores critically productive ways for better understanding global patterns of continuity and change.

In the 19th century, the world was Europeanized. In the 20th century, it was Americanized. Now, in the 21st century, the world is being Asianized.

The “Asian Century” is even bigger than you think. Far greater than just China, the new Asian system taking shape is a multi-civilizational order spanning Saudi Arabia to Japan, Russia to Australia, Turkey to Indonesia—linking five billion people through trade, finance, infrastructure, and diplomatic networks that together represent 40 percent of global GDP. China has taken a lead in building the new Silk Roads across Asia, but it will not lead it alone. Rather, Asia is rapidly returning to the centuries-old patterns of commerce, conflict, and cultural exchange that thrived long before European colonialism and American dominance. Asians will determine their own future—and as they collectively assert their interests around the world, they will determine ours as well.

There is no more important region of the world for us to better understand than Asia – and thus we cannot afford to keep getting Asia so wrong. Asia’s complexity has led to common misdiagnoses: Western thinking on Asia conflates the entire region with China, predicts imminent World War III around every corner, and regularly forecasts debt-driven collapse for the region’s major economies. But in reality, the region is experiencing a confident new wave of growth led by younger societies from India to the Philippines, nationalist leaders have put aside territorial disputes in favor of integration, and today’s infrastructure investments are the platform for the next generation of digital innovation.

If the nineteenth century featured the Europeanization of the world, and the twentieth century its Americanization, then the twenty-first century is the time of Asianization. From investment portfolios and trade wars to Hollywood movies and university admissions, no aspect of life is immune from Asianization. With America’s tech sector dependent on Asian talent and politicians praising Asia’s glittering cities and efficient governments, Asia is permanently in our nation’s consciousness. We know this will be the Asian century. Now we finally have an accurate picture of what it will look like.
A revised and enlarged edition of Thomas Sowell's essential examination of differences of wealth and income between nations and within nations
Wealth, Poverty and Politics challenges the assumptions, the definitions, the evidence and the reasoning of most of what is said about differences of income and wealth by people in the media, in academia and in politics. After an extensive examination of factors behind the economic differences between nations and within nations -- including geographic, demographic, cultural and political factors -- the last section of the book is a searching critique of leading income redistributionists, from John Rawls to Thomas Piketty and Nobel laureates in economics Paul Krugman, Angus Deaton and Joseph Stiglitz.
Among the more heartening findings from history are the individuals, groups and nations that have risen from poverty and backwardness to prosperity and achievements on the frontiers of human progress. Among the more painful findings are counterproductive creeds and policies that have needlessly prolonged poverty and dependency among lagging groups in countries around the world, and whipped up resentments -- and sometimes violence -- against more productive and successful minorities in many places and times.
Although Wealth, Poverty and Politics offers many new analyses and insights, it is essentially a fact-based study which subjects many beliefs, from various parts of the ideological spectrum, to the ultimate test of empirical evidence. These challenged beliefs about the causes of economic differences range from genetic determinism to exploitation and discrimination. In each case, the analysis follows where the facts lead, whether that is verification, refutation or some combination of the two. Its guiding principle is expressed in a quotation from the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan that opens the final section of the book: "You're entitled to your own opinions, but you're not entitled to your own facts."
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