In this contribution to the "What Is Inequality?" series, Kevin Leicht argues strongly that, given the nature and extent of economic inequality in the United States today, scholars and policymakers should address it directly rather than emphasize its social and educational dimensions. Leicht claims that research and public discourse on gaps between identity groups, and on the importance of education for social mobility, distracts attention from the deepening economic differentiation within groups and the need to address broader issues of labor market outcomes and wages.
Kevin T. Leicht is professor and head of the Department of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, former Sociology Program Officer at the National Science Foundation, and former professor and chair of the Sociology Department and founding director of the Iowa Social Science Research Center at the University of Iowa. He is the former editor of Research in Social Stratification and Mobility and the Sociological Quarterly. He has written extensively on issues relating to economic development, globalization, and political sociology; his work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Spencer Foundation, and the Ford Foundation; and his published articles have appeared in the American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, the Academy of Management Journal, Law and Society Review, and other outlets. He is the author or editor of six books, including Professional Work (with Mary Fennell; Wiley-Blackwell, 2001), Postindustrial Peasants: The Illusion of Middle-Class Prosperity (with Scott Fitzgerald; Worth Publishers, 2006; winner of the Midwest Sociological Society Best Book Award for 2009), and Middle Class Meltdown in America: Causes, Consequences, and Remedies (with Scott Fitzgerald; Routledge, 2014). His current research focuses on growing inequalities among American professionals and the effect of globalization on men’s social status in rapidly developing societies.