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Equality in America

Equality in America

The View from the Top

Sidney Verba, Gary R. Orren

ISBN 9780674259614

Publication date: 01/01/1985

A model of meticulous and incisive scholarship, Equality in America dissects American attitudes toward equality by placing those beliefs in historical context and demonstrating a relationship between political and economic equality. The book is based on a study of leaders from all significant sectors of American society, including top business and labor leaders, those highest in the media and in political parties, and leaders from the feminist and civil rights movements.

The book takes on the thorny puzzle of how economic inequality, which is the inevitable result of a free economy, coexists with political equality, which is a necessary ingredient of democracy. In the course of their argument, the authors take issue with free market economists and Marxist analysts, both of whom treat self-interest as the driving force behind individual and collective behavior, leaving little place for the role of beliefs and values.


  • Sidney Verba and Gary Orren explore the views of leaders of ten groups—business, farm, organized labor, intellectuals, Republicans, Democrats, blacks, feminists, media, and youth… [They] demonstrate that in America there is a stronger commitment to political equality than in any other developed nation. At the same time, Americans hold views and adopt policies that produce one of the lowest levels of economic equality.

    —Thomas B. Edsall, New Republic


  • Sidney Verba (1932–2019) was Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor, Emeritus, and Research Professor of Government at Harvard University.
  • Gary R. Orren is V. O. Key, Jr., Professor of Politics and Leadership at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Book Details

  • 348 pages
  • 6 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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