Why Family Inequality?

pnc-longOn this site I keep a running account of the connections between families and inequality. The nature of this relationship is one of the central problems of inequality in modern societies. To the extent that our well-being is determined by the family we land in, our imagined meritocracy is more illusion than achievement.

Is “the family” a barbaric, pre-modern holdover institution, perpetuating irrational relations and inherited forms of inequality? Or is it a “haven in a heartless world,” the only thing left that is not commodified – a bastion of resistance to the encroaching state and market – and one of the few places where people still have any loyalty to anyone but themselves? I think it’s both. And in either case, it’s a site of political and cultural conflict and debate.

I write this blog as I’m working on a sociology textbook titled, The Family: Diversity, Inequality and Social Change, to be published by W. W. Norton this year (if you would like to learn more about the book, please register here). With the blog I get some immediate gratification during a long-term project, and drum up feedback from readers.

I occasionally participate in conversations on these topics in the news, TV, and radio, and these moments are listed here. Some posts are published on the Sociological Images blog, where there always are lively conversations as well.

Finally, this is also a place for me to pursue diversions and interesting conversations about sociological topics that catch my attention, including related research, academia, research methods, demographic controversies, and others.

I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions on any of the posts.

Note: The children in the illustration above are from the 1880 book Gypsie Life, by George Smith, reproduced by Project Gutenberg. Then I put them on top of a DC Metro train car.