Relation Inequalities

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey will speak based on his new book with

Dustin Avent-Holt:

Relation Inequalities: An Organizational Approach (Oxford, 2019)

Relational Inequalities explains the processes through which resources are generated and distributed in and between organizations, arguing that relational approaches to inequality should displace the more widely embraced, but misleading, individual and societal social science approaches. We identify three generic processes that steer the distribution of resources between and within organizations – social closure, exploitation and claims-making. The core argument we make is that each of these generic processes is profoundly conditioned by the intersections of social categories, organizational dynamics, and the institutional fields that define the frontiers of legitimacy, morality, and respect within organizational spaces. Markets as well as legal and cultural institutions are refracted through local workplace inequality regimes, as are individual traits and biographies. As a result, organizational inequality regimes show a great deal of diversity, even in the same country, industry, and firm. Each chapter of the book presents case studies of organizational variation in inequality dynamics and illustrates inequality generating processes as they are conditioned by interactional and institutional contexts to produce varying levels and types of inequalities. These case studies span industry, country, and continent, as well as race, gender, citizenship, education, and class, to illustrate both what is generic and what is contingent in the constitution of organizationally produced inequalities. In doing so we demonstrate how scholars can better understand inequality by moving towards research designs that compare inequality regimes in similar and contrasting organizational fields. The book ends with a strong program for social scientific research and, more importantly, for inequality reduction. To advance equality and justice agendas the relational inequality model implies a series of global goals, including moving from tribalism to universalism, from hierarchy to citizenship rights, and from markets to human dignity.