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Understanding Social Inequality

Understanding Social Inequality

January 2007 | 232 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Butler and Watt's book is a timely call to social scientists to refocus attention on inequality and particularly on class...The book is a welcome addition to the rapidly expanding literature on social inequality in the Western nations and will help to reinstate class as a key interpretive concept in sociological analysis. --JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIAL WELFARE
Moving beyond the traditional dichotomies of social theory, Understanding Social Inequality brings the study of social stratification and inequality into the 21st century. Starting with the widely agreed "fact" that the world is becoming more unequal, this book pulls together the "identity of displacement" in sociology and the "spaces of flow" of geography to show how place has become an increasingly important focus for understanding new trends in social inequality.

Understanding Social Inequality charts a path through current debates and issues that studies of social inequality cannot afford to ignore, linking the study of social and class inequality to: recent theories and theorists, such as poststructuralism and Pierre Bourdieu; new social groups, from successful middle-class gentrifiers to the "working poor"; space, place and new forms of mobility and immobility; and the increasingly globalized nature of social inequality.

Accessible and engagingly written, this book stimulates the "sociological imagination", prompting readers to link personal experiences and public issues.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Modernity, Postmodernity and Globalization
The end of certainty

The Enlightenment 'project', modernity and postmodernity


Models of globalization

Globalization and migration

Chapter 3: The Collar Line and Urban Boundaries
Collars and classes

Work and stratification in post-war Britain

Class theory in British post-war sociology

The Marxist response to sociology

Urban boundaries

Chapter 4: The Aftermath of Affluence
Dual labour markets

Marxism and the labour process

Restructuring and the collapse of work

The new space economy

Emerging spatial divisions of labour and capitalist transformations

Whatever happened to the collar line?

Chapter 5: New Spatial and Social Divisions of Labour
World cities

Los Angeles and the 'LA School'

Social polarization

Gentrification and the urban-seeking middle classes

The ghetto and the urban underclass

Methodology and urban social polarization

Chapter 6: Poverty, Social Exclusion and the Welfare State
Welfare state regimes

Poverty and social exclusion

Poverty in the United States

Poverty and social exclusion in Britain

Poverty and social exclusion in Europe

Towards a liberal welfare convergence?

Chapter 7: New Work and New Workers
New work

Fast food workers - flipping burgers in the globally branded restaurant

Call centres - taking calls in the interactive service factory

Paid domestic workers - caring and cleaning in global cities

Cash-in-hand jobs - informal work in marginal localities

Young people - working and playing in a restructured region

Chapter 8: Class Identity
Class interests

From class consciousness to class identity

The French connection - Bourdieu

Debating class identity

Identity and organization


This is a book that should be read by anyone interested in class, inequality, poverty and politics. Actually, probably more importantly it should be read by people who think that those things do not matter! It provides a wonderful summation of the huge amount of work on these topics that now exists and it also offers its own distinctive perspectives on a set of issues that are - despite the claims of some influential commentators - still central to the sociological enterprise and, indeed to political life.

Roger Burrows
University of York

With theoretical ease and the use of telling examples, Butler and Watt offer a clear and compelling analysis of the dynamics of social and spatial inequality in an era of globalisation. This is an invaluable resource for students and scholars in sociology, human geography and the social sciences more generally.

Gary Bridge
University of Bristol

A very good collection of articles supported with photos, maps, graphs and various charts.

A very detailed chronology of key events and dates and 'pros and cons' boxes enabling a two sided argument towards the questions.

An excellent supplementary reader

Mrs Sunray Heap
General Education , Cardiff and Vale College
December 12, 2011

A well written and accessiable text. Particularly strong here, and especially useful for my course, was the focus on space and inequalities within cities. The book also does a good job placing arguments within theoretical debates

Dr Matt Dawson
Sociology , Glasgow University
December 3, 2011

An excellent text

Dr Martin Power
Sociology, University of Limerick
April 21, 2011

One of the strongest textbook on social inequality currently on the market. It is adoptable for a range of modules on our BA (Hons.) Youth & Community Work.

Dr John Stitt
Youth & Community Dev., University of Cumbria
July 23, 2010

need something with a more global focus. the book is also too advanced for our students, none of whom are sociology majors but would be taking the course as an elective.

Mr Benjamin Fasching-Gray
Please select your department, Please select your institution
June 30, 2010

This a fantastic read! Absolutely perfect for my module on understanding inequality in education. I like the emphasis on socio-economic status but with recognition that it is not the only cause of inequality. Well written and engaging.

Education , Sheffield Hallam University
November 16, 2009

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