Understanding inequality through the lens of cultural processes: On Lamont, Beljean and Clair 'What is Missing? Cultural processes and causal pathways to inequality': What is still missing? The relational context of inequality

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, Dustin R Avent-Holt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


The preceding article by Lamont, Beljean and Clair (LBC) entitled 'What is Missing? Cultural Processes and Causal Pathways to Inequality' invites us to extend our socio-economic imagination regarding inequality. While much economic and social inequality is structural in nature, LBC discuss how the human experience of inequalities is strongly grounded in cultural process. Cultural processes here include both identification and rationalization, which LBC discuss in relation to four processes: racialization and stigmatization (for identification) and standardization and evaluation (for rationalization). While cultural processes are the contested terrain within which inequalities are shaped and played out, LBC argue why scholars should pay stronger attention to them than in previous research. Socio-Economic Review invited a group of leading scholars in the fields of inequality and cultural process to discuss the paper of LBC, and relate this both to their past work and the future of inequality research. Douglas Massey opens with a reflection on why US sociology in particular has neglected the role of culture in the study of inequality. The next two contributions by Leslie McCall and co-authors Donald Tomaskovic-Devey and Dustin Avent-Holt raise important questions about how the cultural processes described by LBC relate to the analysis of social structures, such as political discourses or the meso-level dynamics of organizations. Finally, Monin, Forgues and Wang look at how cultural processes operate in organizational settings, and use these insights to analyse the boundary conditions thereof.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbermwu021
Pages (from-to)621-628
Number of pages8
JournalSocio-Economic Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2014



  • cultural processes
  • economic sociology
  • inequality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)

Cite this