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Globalization and Inequalities

Complexity and Contested Modernities
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Sylvia Walby
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Adobe Digital Editions
eBook Format:
Adobe DRM [Hard-DRM]

Sylvia Walby offers an innovative new theoretical framework for explaining social inequalities around the world. A highly anticipated new book from a major name in the social sciences.
How has globalization changed social inequality? Why do Americans die younger than Europeans, despite larger incomes? Is there an alternative to neoliberalism? Who are the champions of social democracy? Why are some countries more violent than others?

In this groundbreaking book, Sylvia Walby examines the many changing forms of social inequality and their intersectionalities at both country and global levels. She shows how the contest between different modernities and conceptions of progress shape the present and future.

The book re-thinks the nature of economy, polity, civil society and violence. It places globalization and inequalities at the centre of an innovative new understanding of modernity and progress and demonstrates the power of these theoretical reformulations in practice, drawing on global data and in-depth analysis of the US and EU.

Walby analyses the tensions between the different forces that are shaping global futures. She examines the regulation and deregulation of employment and welfare; domestic and public gender regimes; secular and religious polities; path dependent trajectories and global political waves; and global inequalities and human rights.

1. Introduction: Progress and modernities

What is Progress?

More money or longer life?

Progress as a contested project

Economic development


Human Rights

Human development, well-being and capabilities

Competing projects: neoliberalism and social democracy

Contesting conceptions of progress

Multiple Complex Inequalities

Multiple and intersecting inequalities

Complex inequalities: difference, inequality and progress

Modernity? Postmodernity? Not yet Modern? Varieties of Modernity?

Modernity or postmodernity?

Late, second or liquid modernity?

Multiple modernities?

Not yet modern?

Varieties of modernity

Defining modernity


Globalization as the erosion of distinctive and separate societies

Resistant to globalization

Already global

Coevolution of global processes with trajectories of development

Implications of globalization for social theory

Complexity Theory

2. Theorising multiple social systems

Multiple Inequalities and Intersectionality

Regimes and Domains

System and Its Environment: Over-Lapping, Non-Saturating, Non-Nested Systems

Societalisation not Societies

Emergence and Projects

Bodies, Technologies and the Social

Path Dependency

Co-evolution of Complex Adaptive Systems in Changing Fitness Landscapes

3. Economies

Redefining the Economy

Domestic Labour as Labour

State Welfare as part of the Economy

What are Economic Inequalities? What is Progress in the Economy?

From Pre-Modern to Modern: The Second Great Transformation

Global Processes and Economic Inequalities

What global processes?

Country Processes

Varieties of Political Economy

Varieties of employment relations

Varieties of Welfare Provision

Critical turning points into varieties of political economy

4. Polities

Reconceptualising Types of Polities




Organised religions



Global political institutions

Polities Overlap and do not Politically Saturate a Territory


Democracy and modernity

Redefining democracy

The development of democracy

5. Violence

Developing the Ontology of Violence

Modernity and Violence

Path Dependency in Trajections of Violence


6. Civil societies

Theorising Civil Society

Modernity and Civil Society

Civil Society Projects

Global Civil Societies and Waves

Examples of waves

7. Regimes of complex inequality

Beyond Class Regimes

Gender Regimes

Ethnic Regimes

Further Regimes of Complex Inequalities


Sexual orientation

Intersecting Regimes of Complex Inequality

8. Varieties of modernity

Neoliberal and Social Democratic Varieties of Modernity

Path Dependency at the Economy/Polity Nexus?

Welfare provision

Conclusions on welfare

Employment regulation


Conclusions on political economy

Path Dependency at the Violence Nexus

Modernity and path dependency


Development, inequality and violence

Gendered violence

Path dependency of the violence nexus in OECD countries

Violence, economic inequality and the polity/economy nexus

Conclusions on violence

Gender Regime

Public and domestic gender regimes

Development and the public gender regime

Domestic and public gender regimes and gender inequality

Varieties of public gender regimes

Democracy and Inequality

9. Measuring progress

Economic Development


Economic inequality

Global economic inequality

Beyond the household

Economic inequalities and flows

Economic inequalities in summary

Inequalities in non-economic domains


Human Rights

Human Development, Well-Being and Capabilities

Key Indicator Sets: What Indicators; What Underlying Concepts of Progress?

Extending the Frameworks and Indicators of Progress: Where do Environmental

Sustainability and Violence Fit?

Environmental sustainability


Achievement of Visions of Progress: Comparing Neoliberalism and Social Democracy

Economic development: neoliberalism vs. social democracy

Equality: neoliberalism vs. social democracy

Human rights: neoliberalism vs. social democracy

Human development, well-being and capabilities: neoliberalism vs. social democracy

Trade offs or complementary?

10. Comparative paths through modernity: neoliberalism and social democracy

Political Economy


Gender Transformations: The Emergence of Employed Women as the New Champions of Social Democracy

Employed women as the new champions of social democracy

Dampeners and Catalysts of Economic Growth: War and Gender Regime



11. Contested futures

Financial and Economic Crisis 2007-9

Contesting Hegemons and the Future of the World

12. Conclusions

The Challenge of Complex Inequalities and Globalization to Social Theory

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