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Social Class: How Does It Work? Hardcover – July 10, 2008
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About the Author
ANNETTE LAREAU is professor of sociology at University of Maryland, College Park.
DALTON CONLEY is University Professor at New York University.
Top customer reviews
I was amazed that this is the first review for a book that was published over a year ago -- hopefully that does not mean the book has been overlooked and not been including in reading lists in our universities. It is a scholarly book, and the papers are subject to the criticism that they feature relatively useless statistics and obfuscating graphs so loved by the academic community. However, the reader is urged to skip over the academic jargon and gobbledygook and extract the meat of the arguments -- it is there for discussion and analysis.
The Introduction by Annette Lareau is critical in putting the remainder of the papers into context -- do not pick a paper are read it without devouring the Introduction first. The book is split into three main parts, conceptions of social class, how social class works, and considering the implications of social class. My favorite paper was the shortest by Janny Scott on reflections on "Class Matters." Yep, I'm sure there's something important being said, I just don't know what it is. I probably learned the most from those by Goldthorpe and Jackson and Lareau and Weininger. Frankly I could argue against "Education Based Meritocracy -- The Barriers to Its Realization" by Goldthorpe and Jackson, but it was certainly thought-provoking. With universities increasingly confining themselves to a single political orientation prevading all disciplines and working to create an internationalist approach to economics and society, the stress on a education-based meritocracy is tending to produce ever more uniform attitudes and opinions in the ruling class where conformity is much more important than ideas, critical thinking, innovation, etc., etc. In short, "merit" means showing that one grasps the rules and attitudes conforming to the elite class rather than anything else. Lareau's and Weininger's presentations of the differences between middle-class and working-class (we can't say "lower class") attitudes that give rise to their children's educational expectancies was also highly interesting.
At any rate, there is much good here for the academician and the normal citizen. I recommend this book to all, and hope the papers will not be too formidable for the casual reader. The issues are simply too important in this age of Weber versus Marx with Marx being the preferred doctrine in the vast majority of American universities.