What is Missing? Cultural Processes and Causal Pathways to Inequality
Socio-Economic Review, Volume 12, Issue 3, July 2014, Pages 573–608, https://doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwu011
36 Pages Posted:
Date Written: April 2, 2014
This paper provides a framework for understanding the ways in which social processes produce social inequality. Specifically, we focus on a particular type of social process that has received limited attention in the literature and in which inter-subjective meaning-making is central: cultural processes. Much of the literature on inequality has focused on the actions of dominant actors and institutions in gaining access to material and non-material resources, or on how ecological effects cause unequal access to material resources. In contrast, we focus on processes that contribute to the production (and reproduction) of inequality through the routine and taken-for-granted actions of both dominant and subordinate actors. We highlight two types of cultural processes: identification and rationalization. We describe and illustrate four processes that we consider to be significant analytical exemplars of these two types of cultural processes: racialization and stigmatization (for identification) and standardization and evaluation (for rationalization). We argue that attention to such cultural processes is critical and complementary to current explanations of social inequality.
Keywords: Inequality, economic sociology, cultural processes
JEL Classification: D63, D73, I00, J71, Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation