The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility

Princeton University Press
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How much of our fate is tied to the status of our parents and grandparents? How much does it influence our children? More than we wish to believe. While it has been argued that rigid class structures have eroded in favor of greater social equality, The Son Also Rises proves that movement on the social ladder has changed little over eight centuries. Using a novel technique—tracking family names over generations to measure social mobility across countries and periods—renowned economic historian Gregory Clark reveals that mobility rates are lower than conventionally estimated, do not vary across societies, and are resistant to social policies.

Clark examines and compares surnames in such diverse cases as modern Sweden and Qing Dynasty China. He demonstrates how fate is determined by ancestry and that almost all societies have similarly low social mobility rates. Challenging popular assumptions about mobility and revealing the deeply entrenched force of inherited advantage, The Son Also Rises is sure to prompt intense debate for years to come.

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About the author

Gregory Clark is professor of economics at the University of California, Davis.
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Princeton University Press
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Published on
Feb 23, 2014
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Business & Economics / Economic History
Business & Economics / Economics / General
History / Europe / Medieval
History / Modern / 20th Century
History / Modern / General
Social Science / Social Classes & Economic Disparity
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Why are some parts of the world so rich and others so poor? Why did the Industrial Revolution--and the unprecedented economic growth that came with it--occur in eighteenth-century England, and not at some other time, or in some other place? Why didn't industrialization make the whole world rich--and why did it make large parts of the world even poorer? In A Farewell to Alms, Gregory Clark tackles these profound questions and suggests a new and provocative way in which culture--not exploitation, geography, or resources--explains the wealth, and the poverty, of nations.

Countering the prevailing theory that the Industrial Revolution was sparked by the sudden development of stable political, legal, and economic institutions in seventeenth-century Europe, Clark shows that such institutions existed long before industrialization. He argues instead that these institutions gradually led to deep cultural changes by encouraging people to abandon hunter-gatherer instincts-violence, impatience, and economy of effort-and adopt economic habits-hard work, rationality, and education.

The problem, Clark says, is that only societies that have long histories of settlement and security seem to develop the cultural characteristics and effective workforces that enable economic growth. For the many societies that have not enjoyed long periods of stability, industrialization has not been a blessing. Clark also dissects the notion, championed by Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs, and Steel, that natural endowments such as geography account for differences in the wealth of nations.

A brilliant and sobering challenge to the idea that poor societies can be economically developed through outside intervention, A Farewell to Alms may change the way global economic history is understood.

An instant New York Times bestseller, named a best book of the year by The New York Times Book Review, Amazon, and Entertainment Weekly, among others, this celebrated account of a young African-American man who escaped Newark, NJ, to attend Yale, but still faced the dangers of the streets when he returned is, “nuanced and shattering” (People) and “mesmeric” (The New York Times Book Review).

When author Jeff Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Robert’s life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics. But it didn’t get easier. Robert carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, trying to fit in at Yale, and at home on breaks.

A compelling and honest portrait of Robert’s relationships—with his struggling mother, with his incarcerated father, with his teachers and friends—The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace encompasses the most enduring conflicts in America: race, class, drugs, community, imprisonment, education, family, friendship, and love. It’s about the collision of two fiercely insular worlds—the ivy-covered campus of Yale University and the slums of Newark, New Jersey, and the difficulty of going from one to the other and then back again. It’s about trying to live a decent life in America. But most all this “fresh, compelling” (The Washington Post) story is about the tragic life of one singular brilliant young man. His end, a violent one, is heartbreaking and powerful and “a haunting American tragedy for our times” (Entertainment Weekly).
American Watersheds combines education and entertainment in a trilogy. This first edition contains both parts 1&2. The series highlights leaders who changed history Politically or culturally in the era in which they lived. This is all done by the author telling personal stories or those of a relative or close personal friend.(Greg is related to 3 Presidents and offers stories of 5 Presidents never told before in books) The author is related to Martin Van Buren who invented mass media, celebrities and outsider populist candidates who selected who we elected. This begins a 200 year history of media. The study of media manipulation continues in both the stories and the revisionist history of The Battle of Running Bulls Flint Sit Down Strike 1936/37. Through research and stories from the author's Grandfather, Chief Organizer of the Strike, the true story is finally told. This singular event is called the "strike heard round the World" and gave birth to the first successful labor unions in America. It also gives birth to the American middle class, Civil Rights and Women's Rights. Grandfather Gil Clark moves on to be the President of the Teamsters when his enemy Walter Reuther becomes President of the United Auto Workers Union. In a twist of irony the author's other Grandfather on his Mother's side is his enemy in the Teamsters yet both are great American Watersheds. They negotiated the best union contracts in Teamsters history. Upon leaving the Teamsters Gil Clark became a pioneer in Cable TV with the first Microwave and Cable TV company in Michigan established in Petoskey 1954. It becomes the family business continuing the history of media. Also, the family invests heavily in a future technology company which brought us media tools used today like Google translate, voice to text, text to voice etc. The Media history culminates in modern social media and how it is causing real world events today.

For music lover's the series is a gold mine of stories and rare music links to great American and English music. Meet the greatest studio musicians. The stories often come with a fun movie link. By staying with the format of personal stories or one from a close personal friend or relative, the stories include the Stars from Motown, New Orleans, Michigan Rockers, New York and Nashville. Also, both the stars from the 1960's and the Political Activists are covered as are modern activists. This is the only textbook to highlight many of the great American Women activists, most are completely overlooked by most historians.

Science is another theme which emerges many times. We meet America's greatest spy and scientist who designed the first Space Shuttle and even saves the world form nuclear destruction two times! Other modern scientists who have developed future technologies are introduced. This will in some ways be the first book of modern science which will cause all other science and medical textbooks to be rewritten as it shows that all matter is energy and no density exists as proven by a new technology which makes inflammation and swelling disappear in minutes.

Art is another stop along the Magical Mystical Musical and Historical Love Tour.

Much is learned through autobiographical stories. Ultimately the series makes the case that Love is the answer to everything both personal and political. Love and Power to the people defeat any army. It is also a book of Mysticism. The current recent history reflects the author's belief that faith and history cannot be separated. Ultimately all the stories are meant to help people find their own personal purpose. It helps young students to realize each and every person can become an American Watershed right in their local community. Non stop comedy and Entertainment will make this one textbook which students will enjoy rather than dread. The final part is explosive as the writer becomes an American Watershed while writing the stories of change agents of the past.

The essays in this collection, written by sixteen scholars in rhetoric and communications studies, demonstrate American philosopher John Dewey’s wide-ranging influence on rhetoric in an intellectual tradition that addresses the national culture’s fundamental conflicts between self and society, freedom and responsibility, and individual advancement and the common good. Editors Brian Jackson and Gregory Clark propose that this influence is at work both in theoretical foundations, such as science, pragmatism, and religion, and in Dewey’s debates with other public intellectuals such as Jane Addams, Walter Lippmann, James Baldwin, and W. E. B. Du Bois. Jackson and Clark seek to establish Dewey as an essential source for those engaged in teaching others how to compose timely, appropriate, useful, and eloquent responses to the diverse and often-contentious rhetorical situations that develop in a democratic culture. They contend that there is more at stake than instruction in traditional modes of public discourse because democratic culture encompasses a variety of situations, private or public, civic or professional, where people must cooperate in the work of advancing a common project. What prepares people to intervene constructively in such situations is instruction in those rhetorical practices of democratic interaction that is implicit throughout Dewey’s work. Dewey's writing provides a rich framework on which a distinctly American tradition of a democratic rhetorical practice can be built—a tradition that combines the most useful concepts of classical rhetoric with those of modern progressive civic engagement. Jackson and Clark believe Dewey’s practice takes rhetoric beyond the traditional emphasis on political democracy to provide connections to rich veins of American thought such as individualism, liberalism, progressive education, collectivism, pragmatism, and postindustrial science and communication. They frame Dewey’s voluminous work as constituting a modern expression of continuing education for the “trained capacities” required to participate in democratic culture. For Dewey human potential is best realized in the free flow of artful communication among the individuals who together constitute society. The book concludes with an afterword by Gerard A. Hauser, College Professor of Distinction in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado Boulder.
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