Chapter 4-5 Summary
● Ch. 4 - Arresting the Imagination
○ How do people come to define the game as rigged or fair?
■ These questions are best answered through the rubric of “ideology”
● Sociologists define ideologies as belief systems that function to
■ Imagination matters because without it, nobody would question inequality
○ Defining Reality
■ Much of what people take to be true about the world is built on individual,
agreed-upon definitions of reality
■ When it comes to the reproduction of inequality, some definitions of reality
matter more than others
● These definitions underlie the beliefs that lead people to
perpetuate inequality, most of the time unintentionally
■ Who benefits on a particular definition of reality?
○ Human Beings and Others
■ The kind of definition that all inequality is founded on relies on the idea
that there are “different kinds of people,” some deserving and others not
deserving rights based on nothing but ideas.
■ For any exploitation to occur, one group has to be powerful enough to
● The point is that creating inequality requires defining groups of
people as different in some significant way. After that, some kinds
of people can also be defined as eligible targets for theft,
extortion, and/or exploitation
● In order for groups to survive as groups, they must devise rules to
limit the amount of and intensity of conflict within the group. If a
group wants to exploit another group, they must invent a reason
why the in-group rules don’t apply to to relationships with
● Further elaboration of the “others’” differentness helps to devalue
them for the ways they are defined as being different
○ Only Yourself to Blame
■ In a fair game, losers have only themselves, bad luck, or both to blame.
■ In a rigged game, winners might think they’re clever for getting away with
something, when in reality they benefited from themselves or someone
● This alters the meaning of “winning”
■ How people feel about winning or losing, and what they think it means
about themselves, will vary depending on whether they realize if the
game is rigged or not ● It is much easier to “get ahead” in the game if you are born into
wealth, no matter your skillset
■ Most young people, especially in the U.S., grow up being told over and
over again that the game is not rigged and that everyone who’s smart
enough and tries hard enough can get ahead
● This is obviously false as not everybody has access to the same
■ There also aren’t enough places for everyone who has ability, works hard,
and plays by the rules to move up.
■ The achievement ideology helps to reproduce inequality by defining the
rigged game as fair and leading people to blame themselves for not
● Self-blame leads people to feel they don’t deserve any more than
they have, so they don’t challenge the game, also known as
○ There Is No Alternative
■ Some people believe there is no alternative to the system we have now,
and any efforts to change it are futile.
● Many of these people never learned about other systems of labor
and government in school.
● Individuals can spark and catalyze social change, b