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The American Class Structure in an Age of Growing Inequality

The American Class Structure in an Age of Growing Inequality

Eleventh Edition

September 2020 | 304 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
The American Class Structure in an Age of Growing Inequality, Eleventh Edition reveals how social class affects our everyday lives, from who we marry and how we raise our kids to where we live and how we vote. Dennis Gilbert emphasizes the socioeconomic core of the class system. A major theme running through the book is the growing inequality in American society. The author describes the shift, beginning in the mid-1970s, from an Age of Shared Prosperity to an Age of Growing Inequality. Using fresh data on jobs, wages, income, wealth, and poverty, he measures the widening gap between the privileged classes and average Americans. He repeatedly returns to the question, “Why is this happening?” Economic, political and social factors are examined, and the competing explanations of influential writers are critically assessed. In the final chapter, Gilbert synthesizes the book’s lessons about the power of class and the forces behind growing inequality.

Included with this title:

The password-protected Instructor Resource Site (formally known as SAGE Edge)
offers access to all text-specific resources, including a test bank and editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides. Learn more.
Chapter 1 Social Class in America
Chapter 2 Position and Prestige
Chapter 3 Social Class, Occupation, and Social Change
Chapter 4 Wealth and Income
Chapter 5 Socialization, Association, Lifestyles, and Values
Chapter 6 Social Mobility: The Societal Context
Chapter 7 Family, Education, and Career
Chapter 8 Elites, the Capitalist Class, and Political Power
Chapter 9 Class Consciousness and Class Conflict
Chapter 10 Poverty and Public Policy
Chapter 11 The American Class Structure and Growing Inequality


SAGE Edge for Instructors

Online resources included with this text

The online resources for your text are available via the password-protected Instructor Resource Site, which offers access to all text-specific resources, including a test bank and editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides.

I needed a solid, traditional back to basics book for social stratification. This book has always been one of my favorites.

Professor Stan Weeber
Social Sciences Dept, Mcneese State University
November 27, 2023

Easy and lucid writing, good statistics

Dr Madhumita Banerjee
Sociology/Anthropology Dept, Univ Of Wisconsin-Parkside
February 11, 2021
Key features
  • Recent statistics on wages, incomes, wealth, and poverty illustrate the trends critical to understanding growing inequality.

  • Updated research on social class in American politics enable students to examine Trump’s social base and the expanding role of the ultra-rich in financing election campaigns.

  • New material on women in the class structure encourage classroom discussions about gender issues around jobs and wages, relationships and motherhood, and social mobility.

  • Long range trends in social mobility for both men and women give students a better grasp of the societal context.
  • A detailed discussion of Putnam's research on how growing inequality is shaping the futures of American children provides students with a critical piece of information for understanding the future of the class system.


  • The text focuses on the socioeconomic core of the class system, emphasizing the effects of class differences on our everyday lives.

  • Examines current trends in income, wealth, earnings, occupation, poverty, gender and ethnic differences, class segregation in residential patterns, and politics

  • Tracks historical changes in social mobility, from the 1970s through the present.

New to this edition:

-statistics on wages, incomes, wealth, and poverty have been updated throughout the text
-recent data on occupation segregation by gender and race
-research on how changing effective tax rates since the 1950s has contributed to growing inequality
-extensive treatment of Robert Putnam’s work on the divergent fates of kids growing up in an age of growing inequality
-research on declining mobility of Americans born in recent decades
-the college admissions scandal of 2019-2020  
-reworked explanation of a recent status attainment study
-extensive material on organized influence of money on national politics
-extensive discussion of class influence on voter preference in recent elections, extending to 2018 elections 
-research on the influence of racial resentment on working class white  voters
-income differences in voter participation in 2016 elections 
-recent history of the labor movement