ABOUT THIS BOOK
A model of meticulous and incisive scholarship, Equality in America dissects American attitudes toward equality by placing those beliefs in historical context and demonstrating a relationship between political and economic equality. The book is based on a study of leaders from all significant sectors of American society, including top business and labor leaders, those highest in the media and in political parties, and leaders from the feminist and civil rights movements.
The book takes on the thorny puzzle of how economic inequality, which is the inevitable result of a free economy, coexists with political equality, which is a necessary ingredient of democracy. In the course of their argument, the authors take issue with free market economists and Marxist analysts, both of whom treat self-interest as the driving force behind individual and collective behavior, leaving little place for the role of beliefs and values.
Sidney Verba and Gary Orren explore the views of leaders of ten groups—business, farm, organized labor, intellectuals, Republicans, Democrats, blacks, feminists, media, and youth… [They] demonstrate that in America there is a stronger commitment to political equality than in any other developed nation. At the same time, Americans hold views and adopt policies that produce one of the lowest levels of economic equality.
-- Thomas B. Edsall New Republic
This lucid, jargon-free analysis of one of the basic governing ideals underlying our political life is a must.
To understand how Americans view equality and the various policy issues that are associated with it is central to an understanding of the Reagan era. As of now, no one can discuss the topic unless he has absorbed the lessons of Equality in America. It is must reading.
-- Seymour Martin Lipset, Caroline Munro Professor of Political Science and Sociology, Stanford University
Sidney Verba and Gary Orren have illuminated, as few others could, the practical search for equality. Do we believe America is fair? Yes, but we believe in equalities of various and often contradictory kinds. Do we behave in light of what we believe? Yes, but what is equal for some may be a form of disentitlement for others. As no work of our time, this defines the subject and puts the questions.
-- Daniel Patrick Moynihan