Challenging the conventional wisdom: Recent proposals for the interpretive study of inequality [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Human Studies 27 (2):113-136 (2004)
The conventional wisdom among many sociologists is (1) that it is their prerogative to define, document, and explain the inequalities that exist in society and (2) that there are two general theoretical perspectives useful for studying inequality: functionalism and conflict theory. Some scholars have recently challenged the latter portion of this view by advocating the development of more interpretive, interactionist approaches. However, these scholars'' agendas often tend to perpetuate the first half of the conventional wisdom. While interactionists (and other constructionist scholars) can choose to study inequality in any number of ways, I argue that the most distinctive contribution they can make is to focus on the meanings that inequalities have for people in everyday life, as well as how those meanings are achieved.
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