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The Pecking Order: A Bold New Look at How Family and Society Determine Who We Becomeby Dalton Conley
Synopses & Reviews
The family is our haven, the place where we all start off on equal footing — or so we like to think. But if that’s the case, why do so many siblings often diverge widely in social status, wealth, and education? In this groundbreaking and meticulously researched book, acclaimed sociologist Dalton Conley shatters our notions of how our childhoods affect us, and why we become who we are. Economic and social inequality among adult siblings is not the exception, Conley asserts, but the norm: over half of all inequality is within families, not between them. And it is each family’s own “pecking order” that helps to foster such disparities. Moving beyond traditionally accepted theories such as birth order or genetics to explain family dynamics, Conley instead draws upon three major studies to explore the impact of larger social forces that shape each family and the individuals within it.
From Bill and Roger Clinton to the stories of hundreds of average Americans, here we are introduced to an America where class identity is ever changing and where siblings cannot necessarily follow the same paths. This is a book that will forever alter our idea of family.
A study of how American families create and mirror economic inequality reveals how specific factors contribute to the successes and failures of children within a family, citing such contributors as genetics, birth order, family size, divorce, economics, gender, and race. Reprint. 25,000 first printing.
About the Author
Dalton Conley is director of the Center for Advanced Social Science Research and professor of sociology and public policy at New York University. He is also adjunct professor of community medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Salon, among other publications. His previous books include Honky and Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth, and Social Policy in America. Conley lives in New York City.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
Inequality starts at home: an introduction to the pecking order — Butterflies in Bialystok, meteors in Manila: the nature-nurture red herring — Love is a pie: birth order and number of siblings — Death, desertion, divorce: when bad things happen to good families — Movin' on up, movin' on out: mobility and sibling differences — Legacies and role models, fat and skin: gender dynamics in the family — Random acts of kindness (and cruelty): outside influences on sibling success — From tribes to markets: conclusions, implications, and insinuations — About the pecking order: a technical appendix.
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