Cultural Processes of Inequality

Cultural Processes of Inequality

A Sociological Perspective

By Amanda Udis-Kessler

Cultural Processes of Inequality: A Sociological Perspective show how systemic inequality is produced and reproduced through mundane, routine actions based on taken-for-granted assumptions. The book ties such cultural assumptions to personal and institutional behavior, drawing connections between individuals, culture (as meaning systems) and larger social structures.

EPUB, 200 Pages


July 2024

£25.00, $35.00

PDF, 200 Pages


July 2024

£25.00, $35.00

  • About This Book
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About This Book

Cultural Processes of Inequality: A Sociological Perspective shows how systematic inequality is produced and reproduced through mundane, often taken-for-granted practices of offering someone the benefit of the doubt and treating them in good faith or, alternatively, of withholding the benefit of the doubt and treating them in bad faith. This straightforward way of thinking about value and devaluation, privilege and discrimination, works across multiple forms of inequality and at social levels ranging from interpersonal interactions to large-scale institutions, while showcasing the importance of different levels and types of social power (decision-making power, cultural power and individual power).

Good-faith and bad-faith assumptions and practices intersect with moral inclusion and exclusion, processes by which certain people or groups of people are defined as deserving or undeserving of moral treatment, often with tragic consequences. Cultural Processes of Inequality covers ways in which good-faith and bad-faith assumptions and practices play out through moral alchemy, false equivalencies, self-fulfilling prophecies, positive and negative visibility and invisibility and the linking of social groups to definitions of social problems, providing contemporary U.S. examples of how these often-underutilized sociological concepts make sense of racism, sexism and heterosexism. The role of members of devalued groups in reproducing or struggling against their devaluation is also considered.

Cultural Processes of Inequality concludes with concrete actions individuals and groups can take to build a good-faith society and includes an appendix discussing key sociological concepts to make the book more useful to undergraduate students who have not previously taken a sociology course as well as discussion questions for students. Written for students in sociology classes and accessible to generally educated readers, Cultural Processes of Inequality sheds light on components of systematic inequality that too often go undiscussed even as they play a daily role in the injustice and the many harms of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other forms of inequality.


Cultural Process of Inequality is a must-read for those who are working to make ours a more just and equitable world. Not only does Udis-Kessler explain how inequality works in clear and everyday language; she also provides us with discussion guides, a how-to manual for reducing inequality and, perhaps most importantly, a message of hope.” C.J. Pascoe, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Oregon, USA; Co-editor, Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World.

“In a wonderfully accessible, down-to-earth style, Udis-Kessler deftly reveals the everyday cultural processes that produce and reproduce anti-Black racism, sexism, and heterosexism. This important book not only uncovers the multiple ways that our actions and institutions contribute to inequality but also challenges us to envision more equitable choices.”Wayne H. Brekhus, University of Missouri, USA.

“This is a great manuscript that students will find compelling and interesting to read. I congratulate the author for a job well done. This book should find its way into every university library.”Kirk Johnson, The University of Mississippi, USA.

“A timely, provocative, and student-friendly analysis of the disturbing processes by which some types of people are perceived and treated as mattering less than others. Grounded in data and anecdotes, this insightful commentary reveals much about our unhealthy social conditions in the twenty-first century that too many try to ignore.” William Marsiglio, Professor of Sociology, University of Florida, USA; author of Chasing We-ness: Cultivating Empathy and Leadership in a Polarized World.

“Everyday social interactions are key to understanding the inner workings of social inequality, and Cultural Processes of Inequality makes a solid contribution to that area of study by illuminating critical mechanisms that are often taken for granted.” —Julie C. Keller, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Rhode Island, USA.

“By viewing the important and timely issues of social inequality using a sociological lens, Amanda Udis-Kessler exposes and details the cultural processes that limit and also enhance and advance society, giving us the knowledge and tools to change the inequities inherent but not necessarily permanently embedded, in our society. This is essential reading for anyone concerned with the social patterns that lead to human and ecological devaluation and forms of resistance and progressive change.” Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld, Instructor, University of Massachusetts Amherst, College of Education, USA; author of The What, The So What, and The Now What of Social Justice Education, and co-editor: Readings for Diversity and Social Justice.

“As a non-sociologist, I find Udis-Kessler’s Cultural Processes of Inequality to be valuable for a broad audience, helping would-be interdisciplinary scholars like me understand the role of culture in the reproduction of inequality. The accessible style and an appendix for those new to sociology make this book useful to people from many disciplines and backgrounds.”Christina Rader, Associate Professor, Department of Economics and Business, Colorado College, USA.

Author Information

Amanda Udis-Kessler is the author of Queer Inclusion in the United Methodist Church and a contributor to thirteen books on systemic inequality. A former sociology professor, she currently serves as the Director of Assessment and Program Review at Colorado College.


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments; List of Figures; Epigraphs Introduction; Chapter 1: Mattering: Inequality as Differential Valuation; Chapter 2: Power and Systemic Inequality; Chapter 3: The Benefit of the Doubt; Chapter 4: Moral Alchemy and False Equivalencies; Chapter 5: Assumptions, Expectations, and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies; Chapter 6: In/visibilities, Positive and Negative; Chapter 7: Problems and People; Chapter 8: Bringing the Processes Together; Chapter 9: Collusion; Chapter 10: Toward a Good-Faith Society; Appendix: Thinking Like a Sociologist; Bibliography


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