Changing Structures of Inequality

Changing Structures of Inequality: A Comparative Perspective

Yannick Lemel
Heinz-Herbert Noll
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 440
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  • Book Info
    Changing Structures of Inequality
    Book Description:

    Changing Structures of Inequality examines these questions in a new comparative perspective, covering five national societies - Canada, France, Germany, Spain, and the United States. The authors offer a deep analysis of country-specific research traditions in the fields of class analysis and social stratification, revealing important conceptual differences that have consequences for the diagnoses. They present the results of substantial comparative studies on different aspects of inequality in developed societies - the inequality of income and wealth, educational inequalities, status crystallization, migration and inequality, gender inequality and the structuring effect of social class - highlighting similarities as well as substantial differences between the societies under examination. The authors offer a nuanced conclusion that puts in perspective the different topics of this contemporary debate. Developed societies are now characterized by more dynamic and pluralistic structures of inequalities, where classes have lost some of their previous importance but still have some place. Contributors include Howard M. Bahr, Mathias Bös, Gary Caldwell, Salustiano del Campo, Theodore Caplow, Louis Chauvel, Michel Forse, Wolfgang Glatzer, Richard Huaser, Paul W. Kingston, Denise Lemieux, Laura Maratou-Alipranti, and Marion Mohle.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6933-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
    Yannick Lemel and Heinz-Herbert Noll
    • Changing Structures of Inequality: A Comparative Perspective
      (pp. 1-14)
      Heinz-Herbert Noll and Yannick Lemel

      This volume about changing structures of inequality is the tenth published by the International Research Group for ‘The Comparative Charting of Social Change’. Although it focuses on inequality, classes and social stratification, its scope and the approach followed differ in fact considerably from the sort of comparative studies which are usually published under these labels. Following the research strategy of this project, to study trends of social change in comparative perspective, this volume deals with changes in the structures of inequality as part and consequence of the whole range of recent trends of social change in several of the most...

    • Social Stratification: The Distinctiveness of French Research
      (pp. 17-44)
      Yannick Lemel

      French sociologists are constantly aware of the issue of social stratification, so there is very little empirical research in which the individuals studied are not situated, even very loosely, within the social structure. As a result, establishing an overview of facts and orientations in terms of social stratification may be easily confused with an assessment of sociological analysis as a whole; hence the need to define clearly the scope of this chapter.

      This chapter surveys quantitative analyses of stratification phenomena in French society as a whole. Studies of specific groups will rarely be touched upon except for cases that impelled...

    • Class, Stratification and Beyond: The German Case
      (pp. 45-74)
      Heinz-Herbert Noll

      In the early eighties - well before the breakdown of the former GDR and the start of the reunification process - a new sociological debate emerged in West Germany about major changes of the social structure (Beck1983;Hradil1987). Keywords of this debate were for example “individualization”, “pluralization of life styles”, “social milieus” and “new social inequalities”. In general it was stated that the old rigid social structure defined by “large societal groups” has given way to a new, more fluid and individualized social structure. In particular doubts were raised whether traditional concepts like class and social stratification are...

    • Empirical Studies on Social Stratification in Quebec and Canada
      (pp. 75-116)
      Simon Langlois

      In the 1960s and 1970s, social-stratification studies in Quebec and Canada were marked by analyses of relationships between nation and class, and by the application of a large variety of theoretical and methodological approaches. Social scientists have had to deal with the same problems as their colleagues studying other societies - specification of a theoretical approach and construction of measurements appropriate to social classes - but they have also had another difficulty to overcome: that of selecting the proper entity to be studied. Are there, in Canada, two different social spaces within which people circulate? Is it necessary to study...

    • Social Stratification and Inequalities in Spain: The State of The Art
      (pp. 117-152)
      Salustiano del Campo

      This chapter presents the main contributions made by Spanish sociologists during the second half of the XXth century to class and strata analysis and the evolution of social inequalities in Spain.

      The structure of the ‘Ancien Régime’, having survived the Napoleonic invasion, the War of Independence and the loss of the Central and South American colonies, crumbled in the course of the 19th Century. One decisive step in this process was disentailment; this meant the loss to the church of its landed assets, which were sold off, thus creating large numbers of yeoman farmers. By 1860 these made up 33,9%...

    • Research on Class in the United States
      (pp. 153-170)
      Paul W. Kingston

      This review highlights key empirical and theoretical analyses of changes in the U.S.classstructure, and it does not attempt to consider analyses of all forms of inequality. The crucial distinction betweenclassandinequalitywill necessarily be explained in later sections. At the same time I discuss some prominent lines of research (e.g., the status attainment literature) that do not directly address class issues but are relevant to analyzing the fate of classes. In doing so, I emphasize the results of quantitative research.

      What conclusions have sociologists drawn about changes in the American class system over the last few...

    • Some Problems With the Comparative Charting of Trends in Inequality
      (pp. 171-184)
      Theodore Caplow

      This paper is neither an overview of research on inequality in different national contexts (like the preceding papers) or a cross-national examination of a given type of inequality (like the papers that follow). Rather, it presents a set of general reflections on the intellectual and methodological obstacles that beset sociological work in this area in order to assure the reader that the authors of this volume have no intention of minimizing the difficulties that confront any serious effort to chart trends in inequality over time in a single national society and the greater difficulties they face in attempting to compare...

    • The Distribution of Income and Wealth in European and North American Societies
      (pp. 187-218)
      Wolfgang Glatzer and Richard Hauser

      Among the various criteria according to which inequality in modern societies is regarded, income is one to which the most attention is paid. The reason for this is that, in market economies, access to goods and services is regulated mainly by income. Individuals and households cannot make ends meet without sufficient income at their disposal, and most of the desirable things in the world cannot be attained without spending income. Of course, “goods” can be obtained in other ways - such as public goods provided free of charge and self-provided goods from household production - but these can never be...

    • Educational Inequalities: Distribution of Knowledge, Social Origins and Social Outcomes
      (pp. 219-250)
      Louis Chauvel

      Often regarded as a strategy for staying at the top of international competition between nations, investment in education might be one of the most widely agreed-upon public policies, even in countries where state activism is quite discredited (seeReich1992). The thrust toward educational investment is not new (de Swann1988): expansion of the education system has been a long-term global trend for decades. From the beginning of the twentieth century to the present, in all advanced countries, there have been improvements in education. The macro-social aspect of expansion of the education system masks another central issue: in all countries,...

    • Status Consistency Trends of Occupational, Educational and Economic Position in France, Germany and the United States
      (pp. 251-274)
      Michel Forsé and Yannick Lemel

      The paradigm of status consistency is central to the sociological study of inequalities and social change. The actors most concerned with status inconsistency see it as a potential stimulus for change. Inversely, periods of rapid change surely go hand in hand with a proliferation of status inconsistencies.

      Since GerardLenski(1954) first introduced the concept, status consistency has attracted a great deal of research (seeSmith1996, for as recent survey), especially by East European sociologists interested by what they saw as “anomalies” - the gap between income and prestige in certain job categories (see the well known work by...

    • International Migration and Inequality
      (pp. 275-332)
      Howard M. Bahr, Mathias Bös, Gary Caldwell and Laura Maratou-Alipranti

      With the world population at record levels, perhaps it is to be expected that the movements of peoples, as monitored in the crossings of national borders, should also be at historic highs. We are officially informed, in releases such as the UN‘s ‘State of World Population 1993’, that the scale of contemporary migrations, both international and internal, is unprecedented. Added to the record numbers of migrants and refugees are the striking life style differentials between affluent western countries of destination and the immigrants’ countries of origin, the technological capabilities for moving vast numbers of people long distances, the extreme population...

    • Gender Inequality in Five Modern Societies
      (pp. 333-368)
      Denise Lemieux and Marion Möhle

      After female suffrage was won, issues relating to gender inequality had declining salience, but since the latter part of the sixties, they have again been at the forefront of social and political life in all Western societies. Gender inequality has been continually discussed, analysed and rather well documented. This attention has come at a time when women’s lives have been considerably transformed, particularly by their growing participation in the labour market and a reduced involvement in maternal activities facilitated by modern contraception. What might look like a paradox is actually part of a complex, ongoing process of profound and multifaceted...

    • Inequality: The Structuring Effect of Social Class in Four Societies
      (pp. 369-428)
      Paul Kingston, Simon Langlois, Yannick Lemel and Heinz-Herbert Noll

      Social class, a classic sociological concept, has become the topic of ever more vigorous debates. Classes are dying though inequality lives, some argue (Pakulski1993;Kingston2000). These claims counter the remarkable resurgence of class theory in the last fifteen years, with scholars insisting on the ongoing relevance of the concept (Wright1985;Wright1997,Erikson and Goldthorpe1992;Esping-Andersen1993,Hout, Brooks and Manza1993;Goldthorpe and Marshall1992;Marshall1991;Hall1997). Goldthorpe maintains that social class is a viable and important ‘problematik’ mainly because “the general ‘withering away’ of class is also a historical outcome that, while...

  7. Conclusions
    (pp. 429-440)
    Yannick Lemel and Heinz-Herbert Noll

    In our introduction to this volume we referred to the recent sociological debate on the current status of traditional concepts of inequality, such as class and stratification, within our changing societies. Is the problem of inequality becoming less important, if not outdated, and should we conclude that at the end of the twentieth century we were facing not only the end of ideology and history but also the end of class and stratification? Or are conclusions such as these largely overestimated and due more to changes in the perceptions of social scientists than to reality?

    The second part of this...

  8. Author index
    (pp. 441-452)
  9. Subject index
    (pp. 453-458)
  10. The Authors
    (pp. 459-461)