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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Authoritative survey of social inequality, from beliefs to lived reality, 27 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Injustice: Why Social Inequality Persists (Paperback)
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This is an excellent book and compares very favourably with others on a similar topic, such as The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone, it seems a shame that it has not attracted the same attention as these other books or warranted a response as they have (see The Spirit Level Delusion: Fact-checking the Left's New Theory of Everything).

I have been reading on the topic of social equality/inequality and its consequences for some time, considering it to be one of the central questions of politics, from the nineteen eighties at least some of the most sophisticated political thinking has actually been in favour of inequality, considering it to be not simply natural but also eminently defensible (see Equality). This has become the political consensus and has spread beyond politics to be a popularly held opinion too.

It is from this juncture that Dorling begins his book, that inequality in order to exist and persist requires a belief system which underpins it and treats it as normal and inevitable. The book has an excellent index and contents page, it is structured very well, each chapter has a title corresponding to the toxic beliefs Dorling identifies in his introductory chapter and is further subdivided into subheadings identifying the policies, politics and public decisions corresponding to the specific belief. The book is densely researched and has a comprehensive, as comprehensive as I have seen, notes and sources which are presented in the form of endnotes for each chapter. The notes and sources themselves are a combination of primary and secondary sources, so it is not simply a list of news stories or media websites, there is research, government papers, professional or peer review journals and there are also internet links referenced.

The main chapter headings breakdown as follows:-
1 Introduction; 2 Inequality: the antecedent and outcome of injustice; 3 'Elitism is efficient': new educational divisions; 4 'Exclusion is necessary': excluding people from society; 5 'Prejudice is natural': a wider racism; 6 'Greed is Good': consumption and waste; 7 'Despair is inevitable': health and wellbeing; 8 Conclusion, conspiracy, consensus.

There is also an Afterword: social evils in 2010; Evils in the UK; What to do.

What is interesting about Dorling's book and he writes about in "What to do" is that he does not suggest major structural adjustments, he is not partisan in any real sense either and makes fair criticism of both the political left and right wing, he does make some brilliant points about beliefs and how they translate into policy and practices. He does not provide a long account of how beliefs are formed or can be changed but has provided an example by his own research and writing efforts of how they can be exposed and questioned.

I recommend this book to as wide a readership as possible, it is not academic in tone or inaccessible to a general reader and it is not a pessimistic or preachy book in tone either. It is a perfect antidote to a lot of what serves as popular public and political opinion on social inequality and an excellent reply to sincerely held opinions of the "vulgar Burkean conservatism" which is implicit or explicit in most of the chapter headings.
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Initial post: 29 Feb 2012 21:00:45 GMT
 says:
Good review. I am sorry I missed this one on Vine!
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Lark
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Location: North Coast of Ireland

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