Inequality: The Problem of Us All
In the review of Families in an Era of Increasing Inequality: Diverging Destinies, David S. Hargrove suggests that the book presents “objective data that reflect concerns from the inequality experienced by American families” (para. 5) and is an “effort to describe the process, consequences, and likely future of inequality” (para. 7). Hargrove discusses the atheoretical strategy used to present the information and the failure to integrate seemingly disparate findings. As is typical in our society, there are sides in the family inequality debate, and Hargrove highlights the chapters that illustrate the divide: “Inequality Begins Outside the Home: Putting Parental Educational Investments Into Context” and “Inequality Begins at Home: The Role of Poverty in the Diverging Destinies of Rich and Poor Children.” While an objective data presentation may prove comforting to proponents of each side, how well does it serve the public?
Those of varying ideological perspectives generally use the same or portions of the same data to substantiate their positions. Hargrove points out that the solidifying of ideological positions “continues the social, political, and economic gridlock that, in part at least, lies at the basis for the inequality that drives the concern that led to the development of this book” (para. 7). How might psychologists work to develop theory and processes that permit the effective use of data to inform policies that lead to meaningful interventions that address the consequences of inequality among American families, as well as other social issues confronting the United States today?
How do we, as psychologists, avoid having our respective agendas influence the interventions tested and recommendations made based on the data assembled? As Hargrove notes, critical examination and review are a must. Does my agenda and perspective affect my presentation of Hargrove’s review? Did Hargrove’s agenda and perspective affect his presentation and review of the book?
By David S. Hargrove
PsycCRITIQUES, 2015 Vol 60(26)