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While the early theoretical considerations of inequality are treated rather superficially, the second chapter contributes an understanding of the global dimensions of inequality - a consideration which is often relegated to the sidelines in many standard texts. Laying out the issues of dependency theory and the failure of the modernization thesis Sernau is able to outline the policies of neo-liberalism and structural adjustment before launching into the historical development of inequality from hunting and gathering societies to industrial societies. In the next section he takes on the issues of class, race, gender, and status, as "dimensions of inequality." The remaining text tackles issues found in most other textbooks on social inequality.
There are positive and negative features of this work. The positive aspects are locating social inequalities in a globalizing market driven world with updated information and a text free from jargon and obtuseness. However my view is that the overall text remains weak in its too brief descriptions of both theory and empirical information which gives students a scattered approach to social inequality rather than a focused and in-depth understanding. The brevity of the text, unfortunately, sacrifices depth of understanding for an all too rapid survey of basic points. On the other hand an instructor could use the text and pursue this depth through class lecture and discussion. Having said this, I still believe Sernau's text is a welcome addition to texts on social inequality.
Loyola University, Chicago