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on 15 July 2010
I really liked this book, and think that the author makes a number of valid, thought provoking and (sometimes) original points. There a couple of areas, however, where I think the book could have been strengthened.

Firstly, I was a bit perplexed by how much he seems to hate (or you could say is prejudiced against) economists - which is strange as many of the arguments put forward in the book could have been made crisper by more economic / econometric input. Economics is not necessarily synonymous with neo-liberal 'economist' dogma, and I thought that some of Mr Dorling's caricatures of economists were therefore a bit on the crass side.

Secondly, I also thought that the book was a bit over-reliant on correlation coefficients and he did not state what prevented him from running more meaningful statistical tests to establish patterns of causation (he did not imply causation in the text). it may just be that he didn't want to make the book an exercise in statistics, but then why have the statistics content that it does then?

These are quibbles though. At the very least, this book reveals as value judgements what many people take as being 'common sense' - I particularly liked the chapter on education & intelligence - and should act as a reminder for the Labour movement (and the Lib Dems) that economic redistribution should be at the core of what being 'progressive' is about - not being 'immensely relaxed' about high wealth inequality.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 22 April 2010
Danny Dorling, a professor of human geography at Sheffield University has written a well-researched and hard-hitting book indicting both New Labour and the Conservative Party for the Victorian levels of social inequality existent in Britain today.
Dorling argues convincingly that the growing gap between rich and poor is caused by elitism, exclusion, prejudice, greed and despair. 'Injustice: Why Social Inequality Persists' should be compulsory reading for all those politicians advocating draconian cuts in public spending and deserves to be as widely read as another recent important book on inequality, 'The Spirit Level'(see my review).
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on 14 June 2010
This book is truly inspirational. Dorling makes a sound case for greater equality, presenting shocking statistics that paint a picture of a wealthy but otherwise divided, prejudiced and unhappy society. The myth that there is not enough to go around is blown clean out of the water, as Dorling exposes the inefficiencies of allowing a tiny minority to amass runaway wealth and effectively 'opt out' of normal society. At the same time he hammers another nail into the coffin of that age-old misconception that wealth equals happiness, and shows how economies set up around that assumption are repeatedly failing. He justifies his arguments with eye-opening comparisons between the world's rich nations, showing how the level of equality in each place is intrinsically linked to quality of life. His passion for the subject matter makes an otherwise dull-sounding topic into a fascinating journey through the mind of a modern westerner, showing how the economy and its fabricated culture influence our views of others.

This book has made me question many of my views, and will doubtless have the same effect on a great many others. If you don't want to be enlightened, avoid this book at all costs!!

An all-round brilliant read. Dorling fascinates and educates in equal measure.
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on 29 May 2010
I think it is vital that all MPs at Westminster read this book, and it should be compulsory before creating welfare or taxation legislation.
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on 7 July 2010
Injustice delivers what it says- a wide ranging exploration of why, in a rich world, it remains true that the gaps between the haves and the have nots is growing.
The quality of scholarship shows throughout where the author cites evidence from across the developed world, and the passion is well delivered in that the reader feels a growing sense of injustice without the loss of any rational, calm thought.
This balance is in my opinion, the book's greatest quality. If you want to know what Britain is really like, and what might just help us establish a more just society read this book- and then do something about it!
I am a child of the post war era, and now enjoy the relative comfort of good times, but this book challenges my values and principles- exactly when the clouds have gathered and the storm breaks!
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on 2 June 2011
In this fascinating book, Daniel Dorling, Professor of Human Geography in the University of Sheffield, explores the beliefs that uphold the huge injustice of the world. Beveridge's five giants - disease, idleness, ignorance, squalor and want - still live.

That the rich hold these beliefs is no surprise, but why should anyone else believe them? Dorling brings together evidence that proves that these beliefs are all unfounded.

He writes, "The five tenets of injustice are that: elitism is efficient, exclusion is necessary, prejudice is natural, greed is good and despair is inevitable." Elitism, exclusion, prejudice and greed foster inequality and despair. "Each belief also creates a distinct set of victims - the delinquents, the debarred, the discarded, the debtors and the depressed."

Those in power "believe that just a few children are sufficiently able to be fully educated and only a few of those are then able to govern; the rest must be led." Dorling looks at the notion of the `new delinquents', the `IQism' that is a rationale for putting a few on a pedestal, and apartheid schooling (faith schools, academies, private schools). He points out that Britain diverts more of its school spending (23 per cent) to private schools (which educate just 7 per cent of children) than does almost any other rich nation.

Blair's stress on social exclusion only worsened the problem. People are excluded through debt, by geneticist theories, by segregation of community from community, and by the escapism of the rich hiding behind walls and gates. Between 2000 and 2010 the rate of imprisoning children rose tenfold, despite there being no significant rise in criminality.

On class, Dorling notes the rationalising of class difference through prejudice, the new indenture of miserable labour for miserable rewards, the false Darwinism of thinking that different rewards are needed for different people, and the polarisation between regions.

Dorling scorns the dogma of `Greed is good'. The rich gained most from trade liberalisation, the internationalisation of debt, whereby bankers grow rich from others' debts. Half of Western Europe's credit card debt in 2006 was held by Britons. He studies the dismal discipline of economics, noting that only one dollar in 20 given by Americans to charity goes to the common good.

He explores the spread of anxiety, due to competition promoting insecurity, and its associated cult of celebrity. He quotes Nancy Shalek, President of Shalek Advertising Agency, "Advertising at its best is making people feel that without their product, you're a loser. Kids are very sensitive to that ... You open up emotional vulnerabilities, and it's very easy to do with kids because they're the most emotionally vulnerable."

The UN Research Institute for Social Development recently reported that spending significantly more on state healthcare, rather than private healthcare, brought high life expectancy and low infant mortality. "Spending on private or even charitable health services was counter-productive."

Dorling quotes Frances O'Grady, "Extreme social inequality is associated with higher levels of mental ill health, drugs use, crime and family breakdown." He concludes, "At home they sought to plaster over the wounds caused by inequality by building more prisons, hiring more police and prescribing more drugs."

The more unequal the society, the more illness, physical and mental. He observes pointedly, "It is when injustice is promoted at home to maintain inequality within a country that it also becomes easier to contemplate perpetrating wrongs abroad."

We need to build resistance: advance comes from millions of small actions, organising your workplace, going to your union meetings, speaking up against these wrong beliefs.
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on 28 May 2010
A must for anyone interested in the poverty, justice and social inequality in the UK. The analysis makes powerful reading and should frame discussions in politically left of centre circles for the next thirty years.
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on 11 January 2011
Daniel Dorling's Injustice aims to "redefine" our understanding of why injustice exists and how it is reinforced over time. The book is passionate and written as a rallying cry to the masses to agitate for greater redistribution of power and resources in society. The question of course is why the masses don't do that already, but that brings us to Dorling's central argument.

According to Dorling, although the developed world has become richer, people continue to live in an unjust world largely due to ignorance rather than conspiracy by the rich. At the heart of this new injustice is extreme social inequality, with the rich supported by a band of economists, continue to propagate social inequality through state machinery. They are able to get away with this because society at large continues to hold certain sets of beliefs that are aligned against positive social change. Over the ages these beliefs have taken many forms but in the modern era they have evolved into new five "modern evils" of elitism, exclusion, prejudice, greed and despair". Crush these beliefs through books like his and we are on our way to a fairer and more just world.

The evidence presented is undoubtedly weighty. On every page statistic after statistic shows just how unequal society is, or more specifically the UK and USA. Through the unfolding pages we learn that a seventh of western children today are unfairly labelled as delinquents. We also discover that a sixth of households are excluded from social norms. As if that's not enough there's the shocking revelation that a fifth of people in the west find it difficult or very difficult to get by due to prejudice. Equally worrying is that in rich countries where there's clearly enough for all, a quarter of people in these societies still do not possess the essentials. We also learn that despite the opulence and much talk of "western development" a third are now living in families where someone is suffering from mental ill health.

Such inequality of course matters and it is necessary to question whether it is "acceptable" let alone sustainable. Unfortunately, the question of how naturally sustainable is not explicitly discussed, and on "acceptability", this is where Injustice is weakest. The book is missing is a clear analytical framework that properly anchors "social inequality" to "injustice". The author takes it for granted that where deep social inequality exists there must be injustice. This is a poor foundation for social change, especially in a field where much of the literature already demonstrates that justice does not necessarily imply equality. There are many outcomes which involves unequal outcomes in terms of distribution that are morally considered just outcomes. The absence of "injustice" (justice) must consider other aspects e.g. exogenous rights, rewards and compensation. The author simply has not demonstrated sufficiently that those who view his form of injustices as irrelevant based on other notions of justice are wrong. Injustice does not sufficiently engage with alternative ideas or even contrasting evidence.

Equally worrying is that even accepting the central argument, there remains the vital question of how one begins to bring about meaningful equality, and indeed whether it is sustainable. Injustice's answer is that we need to educate the masses on the evils of injustice through small steps of millions. There are also suggestions that we should live more in villages and other strange notions, which largely represent hopeless answers to people in need of hope.

One is left to conclude that though Injustice paints an informative picture of the level of social inequality in the developed world, the lack of a coherent framework and insufficient balance in critique means it does not offer anything new beyond interesting statistics.
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on 12 November 2015
Well argued, with plenty of evidence. Should be compulsory reading for those wishing to rule, especially when the prime minister has no idea of his own policies and their impact.
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on 28 June 2010
Having read so much about Dorling's book in the press, and desperate to understand the nature of inequality in UK, I feel a huge sense of disappointment having shelved out nearly 20 pounds for a copy of 'Injustice'. Reviews speak of its scholarly detachment and its rigour - just what I needed. But the book is lacking in both: some of its statistical data is selective and/or incomprehensible its judgments are reductionist: essentially inequality is a result of conspiracies by elites (wracked with prejudice and greed) to exclude the poor from the norms of society. This is the fodder of the chattering classes and not what I expected from an academic. A case in point: the early 70s were a "wonderful" time, people "never had it so good": it was a "great time to be ordinary" because the welfare state made us equal and inflation gouged the savings of the rich. The reality of the 70s was that Britain was class and strike ridden, the economy was stagnant combining double digit inflation and high unemployment, there were power cuts, fuel shortages and three day working weeks. The losers were the poor and they were made to pay the cost of its consequences (as they are today following the credit implosion). It caused the Thatcher era which substituted enrichessez-vous for social justice. The UK today is the most unequal society in Europe imposing a massive social and financial cost on its dysfunctional society. "The Spirit Level" by Wilkinson and Pickett provided unimpeachable data to support this assertion.
I admire Dorling's passion, and his paradigm on the causes of inequality is a useful framework. But this is essentially a polemic which seems to have the reinforcement of left wing prejudices as its main aim. Its qualities are overwhelmed by its judgmental tone and overt bias. I share some of those biases. But this book is not helpful. Sorry
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