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The American Class Structure in an Age of Growing Inequality

The American Class Structure in an Age of Growing Inequality

Ninth Edition

© 2015 | 328 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Like its predecessors, the Ninth Edition of Dennis Gilbert’s popular text focuses on the socioeconomic core of the American class system. Drawing on classic and contemporary studies, Gilbert describes our class structure and shows how class affects our everyday lives, from the way we raise our children to the way we vote. The major theme running through the book is the increasing inequality in American society. Gilbert describes the shift in the mid-1970s from an “Age of Shared Prosperity” to an “Age of Growing Inequality.” Using the most recent wage, income, and wealth statistics, and accounts of the shifting balance of class power in national politics, the author traces the widening disparities between the privileged classes and average Americans. He repeatedly returns to the question, “Why is this happening?” A variety of economic, political, and social factors are examined, and the competing explanations of influential writers are critically assessed, concluding with the author’s synthesis of the book’s lessons about the power of class and the forces behind growing inequality.

About the Author
Chapter 1. Social Class in America
Chapter 2. Position and Prestige
Chapter 3. Social Class, Occupation, and Social Change
Chapter 4. Wealth and Income
Chapter 5. Socialization, Association, Lifestyles, and Values
Chapter 6. Social Mobility: The Societal Context
Chapter 7. Family, Education, and Career
Chapter 8. Elites, the Capitalist Class, and Political Power
Chapter 9. Class Consciousness and Class Conflict
Chapter 10. The Poor, the Underclass, and Public Policy
Chapter 11. The American Class Structure and Growing Inequality
Note on Statistical Sources


Instructor Teaching Site

The password-protected Instructor Resources Site includes:

  • Test Bank in Microsoft Word: Each comprehensive chapter test includes multiple choice questions, true/false questions, short answer questions, and essay questions.
  • PowerPoints: chapter-specific slide presentations are designed to assist with lecture and review, highlighting essential content, features, and artwork from the book
  • Web exercises direct both instructors and students to useful and current web sites, along with creative activities to extend and reinforce learning or allow for further research on important chapter topics. 
Student Study Site

The open-access Student Study Site includes the following:

  • Mobile-friendly eFlashcards reinforce understanding of key terms and concepts that have been outlined in the chapters.
  • Mobile-friendly web quizzes allow for independent assessment of progress made in learning course material.
  • Web exercises direct you to useful and current web resources, along with creative activities to extend and reinforce learning or allow for further research on important chapter topics. 
Electronic Test Bank
A Respondus test bank is available for this text.

The powerpoint and test bank materials made instruction a breeze but many chapters felt a little redundant in content at times. I used another reader along with this textbook.

Professor Curtis Smith
Sociology Soc Work Anthro Dept, Utah State University
October 25, 2016

The focus on the American class structure is well presented and then additional global aspects can be a side note not the main focus as with so many texts.

Mrs Deborah F Beat
Sociology Dept, Wichita State University
August 22, 2016

Gilbert does a fine job of delineating the history of economic inequality in the U.S., thus enriching our understanding of why we have an increasingly rigid class structure in our nation today. He also brings ideological and theoretical concerns to the fore in a manner which is highly accessible to students.

Sociology Dept, Iowa State University
August 5, 2014
Key features


  • Analyzes the influence of the Great Recession of 2008-2009 on poverty and inequality.
  • Includes the most current wage, income, wealth, and poverty statistics, with comparisons by race ethnicity & gender.
  • Discusses the role of political money and class voting in the 2012 elections.
  • Incorporates recent scholarship on response of government policy to opinion at different class levels.


  • Examines current trends in income, wealth, earnings, occupation, poverty, gender and ethnic differences, class segregation in residential patterns, and politics.
  • Compares rates of social mobility in 1970s compared with 2000s.
  • Enhanced learning aids include a revised glossary and annotated lists of suggested readings at the end of each chapter.
  • Instructor and Student Resources include a password-protected Instructors Resources Site and an open-access Student Site.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 5

Preview this book

For instructors

Review and Desk copies for this title are available digitally via VitalSource.

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ISBN: 9781452203416