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American Sociological Association: Charles Tilly Award Statement
In Durable Inequality, Charles Tilly creates a highly general theory of unequal treatment by social organizations on the basis of pairs of social categories in unequal and interdependent relation to each other, categories like employer-employee, parent-child, male-female, and skilled-unskilled. The number and variety of such categories give great generality to the theory while a single analytical logic for the explanation of inequalities in terms of such categories couples elegance to generality. Four processes, each with a paired proposition, center the theory. One focuses on exploitation; a second involves opportunity hoarding; a third process/proposition concerns the spread of categorical distinctions by means of organizational emulation of model organization, not solely organizational innovation; and lastly, Tilly argues, categorically rooted inequalities are durable inequalities because people — disadvantaged as well as advantaged — accommodate themselves to them via a process of adaptation.