The Assault on Equality

The Assault on Equality

The Assault on Equality

The Assault on Equality

Synopsis

The Assault on Equality critiques the social theory underpinning the social policies of the new political right. It focuses on the attempt by Herrnstein and Murray in The Bell Curve to provide theoretical justification for social program cutbacks and coercive social policies. The Assault on Equality reanalyzes Herrnstein and Murray's own data and demonstrates that their conclusions are questionable results of polemic and ideology that ignore and contradict the fundamental findings and methods of 20th-century sociology and genetics. The policy proposals of Newt Gingrich are the political counterpart to the flawed social theory of The Bell Curve. Both scholarly and readable, this is an appropriate supplement in courses such as race relations, stratification, theory, policy, and research methods. It shows the contemporary relevance of basic theoretical and methodological insights of sociology contradicted by The Bell Curve and other works of the new political right. Appendices present the statistical issues and the theoretical background ignored by such works. From a multi-disciplinary perspective, the authors take issue with the social policy positions of the new right concerning affirmative action, education, family, race, social class, and welfare.

Excerpt

Issues about equality stand at the center of American values, but they are highly contested. the United States stresses values of social equality heavily, and the two phrases from our political tradition best known to most citizens are Jefferson's "We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal," and Lincoln's "a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." Both affirm equality. However, there is considerable conflict over the meaning of these phrases, and the United States has one of the highest levels of inequality in the world. the phrases were interpreted as consistent with chattel slavery. Into the twentieth century, they were interpreted as consistent with denying women the right to vote and with legally segregated schools. in the 1940s Gunnar Myrdal labeled the position of blacks in the United States An American Dilemma because of conflicts between deep-seated values of equality and the pervasive reality of inequality. in a broader sense, the values of equality as a whole constitute an American dilemma. the conflict continues today.

Debate about fundamental values often centers around the question, equality of what? Equalizing one thing will almost certainly make others unequal. Equal resources, equal political rights, equal opportunities, equal moral concern, equal social value, and equal capacities are in sharp contradiction with one another, with other kinds of equality and with other values. These powerful contradictory forces and contradictory interpretations have led to a very discontinuous historical development.

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