Durable Inequality

Durable Inequality

Charles Tilly
Copyright Date: 1998
Edition: 1
Pages: 310
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1ppftj
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  • Book Info
    Durable Inequality
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92422-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 Of Essences and Bonds
    (pp. 1-40)

    We could reasonably call James Gillray (1757–1815) Britain’s first professional cartoonist (George 1967, 57; Hill 1976). He left us unforgettable images of public and private affairs under George III. Very few handsome people figure in Gillray’s caricatures. In the savage portrayals of British life he drew, etched, and colored toward 1800, beefy, red-faced aristocrats commonly tower over other people, while paupers almost invariably appear as small, gaunt, and gnarled. If Gillray painted his compatriots with malice, however, he also observed them acutely.

    Take the matter of height. Let us consider fourteen-year-old entrants to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst...

  5. 2 From Transactions to Structures
    (pp. 41-73)

    Viviana Zelizer identifies a momentous irony in the American federal government’s generally successful attempt to monopolize production of legal tender across the United States: the more government action reduced the rights of states, municipalities, and firms to issue legally circulating money, the more ordinary Americans and organizations proliferated private monies in the forms of tokens, symbolic objects, and earmarked official currency (Zelizer 1994b). Americans multiplied monies, Zelizer shows, because they were pursuing serious relational business with their monetary transactions. Symbolically and physically, for example, they segregated money destined for their children, servants, and local merchants. They were not only getting,...

  6. 3 How Categories Work
    (pp. 74-116)

    Mary Romero explains how she got involved in research on Chicana domestic workers:

    Before beginning a college teaching post in Texas, I stayed at the home of a colleague who employed a live-in domestic worker. Until then, I had been unaware of the practice of hiring teenage undocumented women as live-in household help. Nor had I had access to the social or “private” space of an employer. I was shocked at the way my colleague and his family treated the i6-year-old domestic whom I will call Juanita. Only recently hired, Juanita was still adjusting to her new environment; her shyness...

  7. 4 Modes of Exploitation
    (pp. 117-146)

    Within the space our world now calls South Africa, midway through the seventeenth century Dutch settlers formed a colony on the Cape of Good Hope, long a crucial landfall for voyagers between the Atlantic and Indian oceans. For two centuries, Europeans and their descendants then clung chiefly to South Africa’s coasts. The major exceptions were the largely Dutch cattle ranchers who spread into interior regions. At first those mobile pastoralists, like gauchos in Argentina and cowboys in North America, shifted from place to place as opportunity called, battling indigenous Africans for access to grazing land. Later, as their frontier filled...

  8. 5 How To Hoard Opportunities
    (pp. 147-169)

    My friends who make their living from survey research would not have approved. Our rambunctious interview did not conform to professional standards. During the spring of 1988, Pierine Piras, Philippe Videlier, and I sat drinking coffee and nibbling cake in the living room of a modest house in Mamaroneck, New York. Mamaroneck lies on Long Island Sound, about twenty miles north of New York City. We were speaking with a man I’ll name Franco Bossi, born in Roccasecca, Italy not far from Rome, ninety-two years earlier.

    Given our standard options of English, French, or Italian for the interview’s language (none...

  9. 6 Emulation, Adaptation, and Inequality
    (pp. 170-192)

    Semezdin Mehmedinovic, a refugee writer from Bosnia, recounts the start of civil war in that tortured land:

    The war started on Sunday. I know this because we always played soccer at Skendirija on Sunday. A guy from my team didn’t show up that night but no one paid much attention to it. After the game we went out, as always, for a beer. When it came time for the last trolley, I headed home. It happened to be a short ride because a bunch of guys with stockings over their heads and Kalashnikovs aimed at us stopped the trolley. As...

  10. 7 The Politics of Inequality
    (pp. 193-228)

    In the presence of an effective government, politics as usual involves both exploitation and opportunity hoarding. Since generations of anarchists and libertarians have railed against it, the exploitative side of government comes easily into view. Ruling classes use government-controlled means and resources to extract surplus value from the efforts of categorically excluded subject populations, redirecting at least some of the surplus to activities from which the subject population does not benefit, although the ruling classes do. Taxes and conscription represent two obvious forms of extraction, colonial wars and promotion of ruling-class businesses two obvious forms of diverted resources. The big...

  11. 8 Future Inequalities
    (pp. 229-246)

    Jane Austen’sNorthanger Abbeytells the story of Catherine Morland, a seventeen-year-old who lived to unlearn lessons acquired from too much reading of Gothic novels. In Bath, Catherine discussed history with her new friends Henry Tilney (who would eventually, after suitable tribulations, marry Catherine) and Henry’s sister Eleanor. “I can read poetry and plays, and things of that sort, and do not dislike travels,” declares Catherine,

    “but history, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in. Can you?”

    [Eleanor:] “Yes, I am fond of history.”

    [Catherine:] “I wish I were too. I read it a little as a duty, but...

  12. References
    (pp. 247-290)
  13. Index
    (pp. 291-299)