The New Gilded Age: The Critical Inequality Debates of Our Time

The New Gilded Age: The Critical Inequality Debates of Our Time

The New Gilded Age: The Critical Inequality Debates of Our Time

The New Gilded Age: The Critical Inequality Debates of Our Time


Income inequality is an increasingly pressing issue in the United States and around the world. This book explores five critical issues to introduce some of the key moral and empirical questions about income, gender, and racial inequality:

Do we have a moral obligation to eliminate poverty?Is inequality a necessary evil that's the best way available to motivate economic action and increase total output?Can we retain a meaningful democracy even when extreme inequality allows the rich to purchase political privilege?Is the recent stalling out of long-term declines in gender inequality a historic reversal that presages a new gender order?How are racial and ethnic inequalities likely to evolve as minority populations grow ever larger, as intermarriage increases, and as new forms of immigration unfold?

Leading public intellectuals debate these questions in a no-holds-barred exploration of our New Gilded Age.


The idea that inequality is a major social problem in the United States was once a small-niche belief limited to hard-core leftists, socialists, and Marxists. There was much hand-wringing within this crowd about the false consciousness (to use an old term!) of the general public: Why, it was asked, is the U.S. public so tolerant, even unaware, of the spectacular takeoff in income inequality, a takeoff that’s generated levels of inequality approaching those of the First Gilded Age? When, just when, would the middle-class voter come to her or his senses, recognize the takeoff for what it is, and stop backing the political party that was causing it?

David B. Grusky is a professor of sociology at Stanford University, director of
the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, coeditor of Pathways Magazine,
and coeditor of the Stanford University Press Social Inequality Series. He is a
fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, recipient of
the 2004 Max Weber Award, founder of the Cornell University Center for the
Study of Inequality, and a former Presidential Young Investigator. His recent
and forthcoming books are Social Stratification (with Manwai C. Ku and Szonja
Szelényi), Poverty and Inequality (with Ravi Kanbur), Mobility and Inequality
(with Stephen Morgan and Gary Fields), Occupational Ghettos (with Maria
Charles), The Declining Significance of Gender? (with Francine Blau and Mary
Brinton), Inequality: Classic Readings in Race, Class, and Gender (with Szonja
Szelényi), The Inequality Reader (with Szonja Szelényi), The Inequality Puzzle
(with Roland Berger, Tobias Raffel, Geoffrey Samuels, and Christopher Wimer),
and The Great Recession (with Bruce Western and Christopher Wimer).

Tamar Kricheli-Katz is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at
Stanford University and a JSD candidate at Stanford Law School. Her research
explores the relationships among choice, responsibility, moral judgment, and

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