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American Society: How It Really Works Paperback – July 8, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0393930672 ISBN-10: 039393067X

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American Society: How It Really Works + Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools + Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 475 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (July 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039393067X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393930672
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


American Society: How It Really Works is sociology at its best, theoretically grounded, empirically based, and tightly argued. Wright and Rogers provide a unique introduction to the sociological perspective by focusing on four core American social values—efficiency, freedom, fairness, and democracy—and show the ways that American society does not measure up to its potential, give sociological reasons why this is the case, and use the sociological imagination to suggest possible futures for a more just and equitable society. The perfect book not only to introduce students to sociological analysis, but to engage them in the major issues of our time.” (Rhonda F. Levine, Colgate University)

“There can be no better introduction to American society than one written by these two brilliant commentators.” (Michael Burawoy, University of California, Berkeley)

“I used Wright and Rogers’s American Society for an introductory sociology course. The text provided an accessible entrance into the fundamentals of sociological analysis, from economic principles and social inequality to mass consumption to participatory democracy. The work is clearly theoretically informed, but the most impressive contribution lies in the wealth of empirical studies, statistics, tables, and figures provided throughout the text. My students were particularly drawn to the empirical evidence and the consistent reference to contemporary debates about social issues, such as health care and campaign financing. The authors’ suggestions for ways to reduce social inequality ignited class discussions about the limits and potential of social change at the personal and structural level. I would recommend this text for any introductory sociology course focused on alternative understandings of social inequality in American society.” (Robyn Autry, Wesleyan University)

“Imagine a book about American social dynamics written by a pair of public intellectuals who are also eminent academics, aimed at beginners. Imagine a book that gives equal weight to facts and ideas, treating each with lucidity and grace. This is that book.” (David Smith, University of Kansas)

About the Author

Erik Olin Wright is arguably the most prominent scholar analyzing the social impact of class in the United States, and his research has mainly involved large-scale quantitative investigations of various themes connected to social inequality. Wright is the author of many books, including Class Counts, Interrogating Inequality, and Classes. He has also organized what he calls the “Real Utopias Project,” which explores a wide range of radical proposals for transforming the core institutions of contemporary society (and is also a series of books for Verso). In addition, he founded the A.E. Havens Center at the University of Wisconsin, whose mission is to foster dialogue between activists and academics and to encourage critical perspectives on contemporary social issues.

Joel Rogers, a MacArthur Foundation "genius" prize-winner and identified by Newsweek as one of the 100 living Americans most likely to shape U.S. politics and culture in the twenty-first century, is professor of law, political science, public affairs, and sociology at the University of Wisconsin−Madison. The common thread in his academic work is democracy: how to define and measure it, what makes it work, how to make it work better. Rogers spends a lot of time outside the university advising people in politics, government, business, and social movements. He runs the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, which promotes “high road” (i.e., equitable, sustainable, democratic) economic development and governance, and has produced a stream of influential innovations in worker training; business and labor strategy; and local, state, and national policy.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By KeremM on August 26, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good scholars rarely write books for undergraduate students and when they write, the outcome is not always successful. This book is different. Written by two leading American sociologists, it offers many important insights into the contemporary American society. The language is clear and free from jargon. What I like most, however, is that the authors do not only offer a critical account of the American society but also concrete solutions to the problems they identify.
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By CB0608 on January 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very insightful and well written! I was happy to know use it as a text for class and actually enjoyed reading it.
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By BG on July 17, 2014
Format: Paperback
This is a great sociological analysis of the United States. Envisioning Real Utopias is also very nice. Assign them to your students!
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