Interrogating Inequality

Interrogating Inequality: Essays on Class Analysis, Socialism and Marxism by Erik Olin Wright, Verso, 1994

This lively new collection from one of America’s leading sociologists covers a wide range of theoretical problems of interest to radical social scientists and political activists.

The book opens with a fascinating autobiographical essay exploring the challenges and benefits of being a Marxist scholar in the present era. Following this is a discussion of various issues in class analysis, with particular attention being paid to two overarching themes: class and inequality, and the relationship between class and power.

The second section of the book engages with the problem of socialism as a possible future to capitalism. Wright attempts to clarify the conceptual status of socialism, and discusses why certain reforms such as basic income grants may ultimately require the introduction of some form of socialism for their full realization.

Interrogating Inequality concludes by examining the general problem of Marxism as a tradition of radical social theory. Three issues in particular are discussed: the central principles of ‘Analytical Marxism’ as a strategy for reconstructing Marxism as a social scientific theory; the relationship between Marxism and feminism as emancipatory social theories; and the prospects for Marxism in the aftermath of the collapse of communist regimes.

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Prologue: Falling into Marxism; Choosing to Stay

Introduction to Part I: Class Analysis

Chapter 1. Inequality

Chapter 2. The Class Analysis of Poverty

Chapter 3. The status of the political in the concept of class structure

Chapter 4. Coercion and Consent in Contested Exchange (with Michael Burawoy)

Chapter 5. Class and Politics

Introduction to Part II: Socialism

Chapter 6. Capitalism’s Futures: a reconceptualization of post-capitalist modes of production

Chapter 7. Why something like socialism is necessary for the transition to something like communism

Introduction to Part III: Marxism

Chapter 8. What is Analytical Marxism?

Chapter 9. Marxism as Social Science

Chapter 10. Explanation and Emancipation in Marxism and Feminism

Chapter 11. Marxism after Communism