Between Modernism and Postmodernism: Lenski's Power and Privilege in the Study of Inequalities

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Abstract

Gerhard Lenski's classical work on stratification Power and Privilege, was an effort to reconcile and to synthesize different approaches to inequality incorporated into the grand theories of the day. It anticipated a variety of developments in the theoretical and empirical understanding of inequalities. These include recognition of the multiplicity of inequalities; emphasis on race, class, gender, and other sources and systems of domination and subordination; and the intersection of these factors in complex patterns to create different standpoints and life consequences. The result was groundbreaking work that underscored the multidimensionality of stratification systems, the variability of their influences, and the notion that their intersection in itself has implications beyond the sum of component parts. In these ways his work foreshadowed the possibilities of finding common ground between modern and postmodern perspectives, to make Lenski the last grand theorist of modernity and a forerunner of postmodern theories of inequality.

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