New RSF Book Reviews in Contemporary Sociology

January 28, 2014

Two Russell Sage Foundation books were recently reviewed in the January 2014 issue of Contemporary Sociology. Whither Opportunity?: Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances (2012), a volume edited by Greg Duncan and Richard Murnane, received glowing praise from reviewer Linda Renzulli of the University of Georgia, who called the book “a must read for scholars in education, family, and labor markets.”

Whither Opportunity? examines the corrosive effects of unequal family resources, disadvantaged neighborhoods, insecure labor markets, and worsening school conditions on K-12 education. The contributors in the book explore the ways rising inequality is undermining one of the most important goals of public education—the ability of schools to provide children with an equal chance at academic and economic success. As Linda Renzulli writes of the book’s cross-disciplinary approach,

This book should become a staple in sociology of education scholars’ libraries, comprehensive exam lists, and course syllabi. Why? Because it updates our understanding about the ways in which the economic and social institutions in America affect schooling….Where has the American Dream gone for our low-income families? It is precisely this question that Duncan and Murnane have posed for the scholars [in the book] to answer. Questions such as these cannot be answered with one discipline, with one method, or with one dataset.

Contemporary Sociology also reviewed RSF’s From Parents to Children: The Intergenerational Transmission of Advantage (2012), edited by John Ermisch, Markus Jäntti, and Timothy M. Smeeding. In some ways a companion volume to Whither Opportunity?, From Parents to Children compares how parents' resources transmit advantage to their children at different stages of development and shed light on the structural differences among countries that may influence intergenerational mobility. In her assessment of the book, reviewer Emily Rauscher of the University of Kansas called it “an impressive collection of mobility studies.” As she notes, the cross-national research in the book confirms that social mobility in the United States has continued to dwindle, with children’s life chances more strongly associated with their parents’ socioeconomic status than residents of the nine other countries studied. Rauscher concludes, “Hopefully [the book] will serve as a battle cry to fight rising inequality and the disturbing lack of opportunity before they sentence future generations of children to be fated by their parents’ status in the land of inopportunity.”

Click here to read more about From Parents to Children or to buy the book.

Click here to read more about Whither Opportunity? or to buy the book.


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


The Russell Sage Foundation offers grants and positions in our Visiting Scholars program for research.


Join our mailing list for email updates.