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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $35.00

392 pp.
3 tables, 6" x 9"


Publication date:
August 2013

Imprint: OUP Canada

Habits of Inequality

Lorne Tepperman and Nina Gheihman

British social reformer Robert Owen once declared that "man is the creature of circumstances." A century and a half later, his famous words still ring true. While many adopt a fatalist approach, believing that their lot in life is inevitable, in fact a number of highly complex social factors determine the outcome of our socioeconomic status and integration into society. It may seem unfair, but the conditions into which we are born largely determine the various courses that our lives take.

In their highly readable overview authors Lorne Tepperman and Nina Gheihman look to the social inequalities that arise from such circumstances - including those of class, gender, race, ethnicity, age, and sexual orientation. In doing so, they uncover the startling observation that in any given society these various manifestations of inequality show similar patterns, revealing a cultural predisposition (or "habit") that favours and promotes inequality.

Associated with these social inequalities are a number of hidden costs, ranging from unnecessarily high rates of physical and mental illness, addiction, violence, and crime. With inequality on the rise in Canada, the increase of these social problems is an unsettling reality. In order to address these major inequalities - and to resolve their associated social problems - we must first overcome this underlying habit that connects them all. If that is our societal goal, and the authors argue it should be, we must be prepared to change the way we think about politics, culture, society, and ourselves.

Readership : General readers interested in the various manifestations of societal inequity will find Habits of Inequality an engaging read full of recognizable cultural examples and comprehensible theories. Sociology students studying social inequality will learn about subtle and overt forms of discrimination. Readers will also include those concerned with social inequality in a Canadian and international perspective.

Preface: Heaven on Earth
Introduction: The Inequality Myth
Part I. Habits of Inequality
1. Exploitation
2. Domination
3. Racialization
4. Exclusion
5. Victimization
6. Colonization
Part II. The Power of Life and Death
7. Sickness and Stigmatization
8. Crime and Punishment
9. War and Destruction
Part III. Making Society Better
10. Imperfect Equality

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Lorne Tepperman is the author of The Sense of Sociability: How People Overcome the Forces Pulling Them Apart, Problem Gambling in Canada, and Betting Their Lives: The Close Relations of Problem Gamblers, all published by Oxford University Press. A professor at the University of Toronto, he has taught courses on sociology for over forty years and has published over a dozen textbooks in the field.

Nina Gheihman is a graduate student of sociology at the University of Toronto and will continue her studies of cultural explanations for the reproduction of social inequality at Harvard University in the Fall of 2013.

The Sense of Sociability - Lorne Tepperman
Problem Gambling in Canada - Lorne Tepperman and Kristy Wanner
Betting Their Lives - Edited by Lorne Tepperman
Racism in Canada - Vic Satzewich
Poverty in Canada - Raghubar D. Sharma
Child Poverty in Canada - Patrizia Albanese
Aging in Canada - Neena L. Chappell and Marcus J. Hollander
Power and Inequality - Gregg M. Olsen
Inequality in Canada - Edited by Valerie Zawilski
Inequality and Instability - James K. Galbraith

Special Features

  • Timely. The rise of the global Occupy movement demonstrates that now more than ever people are interested in social inequality issues and their associated social problems.
  • Broad approach. The authors draw fascinating connections across large-scale social problems, such as racism, gender discrimination, and economic inequality.
  • Persuasive theory. Offers a thought-provoking argument for the pervasiveness of inequality around the world.
  • Accessibly written. A lively, highly readable narrative will appeal to the general reader without a sociology background.
  • Canadian content. Social inequality in Canada is compared on an international scale, using both hard and soft measures.
  • Expert author. Lorne Tepperman has authored over a dozen books on sociology, including The Sense of Sociability, hailed as a "sweeping, ambitious book" (Literary Review of Canada).
  • Entertaining examples. From the royal wedding to the popular documentary Seven Up!, engaging examples remind us that we are regularly exposed to social inequalities in our everyday lives.