Michael Schwalbe

Michael Schwalbe is a professor of sociology at North Carolina State University. He is the author of: Rigging the Game: How Inequality Is Reproduced in Everyday Life (Oxford, 2008). He can be reached at MLSchwalbe@nc.rr.com.

Articles by this author

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 11:21am
Escaping the Inequality Trap
You don’t have to be a Marxist to see that capitalism generates inequalities in wealth and income.
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Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 11:37am
A Primer on Class Struggle
When we study Marx in my graduate social theory course, it never fails that at least one student will say (approximately), “Class struggle didn’t escalate in the way Marx expected. In modern capitalist societies class struggle has disappeared. So isn’t it clear that Marx was wrong and his ideas are of little value today?”
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Friday, March 11, 2011 - 10:11am
School Woes Rooted in Boardrooms, Not Classrooms
Champions of public education often claim that student achievement drives the economy. Economic innovation and competitiveness supposedly depend on how much students learn in school. Investing in public education is thus wise policy because it ensures our collective prosperity. This conventional defense of schooling goes wrong in three ways: it misstates the relationship between learning and economic growth; it attributes too much power to schools and teachers; and it limits our understanding of what education is for.
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010 - 10:44am
Making a Place for Labor History
When teaching about social movements in America, I ask my students how many of them had to take a U.S. labor history course in high school. For the last twenty-five years the answer has been the same. Not a one. I ask the question to make a point about how we learn what's needed for social change to occur. If all we know about social change comes from celebrating the lives of Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, or Martin Luther King Jr., we may think that change results mainly from individual moral heroism.
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Saturday, April 4, 2009 - 10:45am
No Armies Are Moral
People in every country want to see their soldiers as acting nobly. So perhaps it's no surprise that Israeli propagandists have tried to claim first place by calling the IDF the "most moral army in the world." The problem with this phrase is not just that it is risible in the case of the IDF, but that it implies the possibility of any army being moral. On the contrary, by virtue of how they are organized and what they inevitably do, all armies are moral failures.
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Friday, May 30, 2008 - 3:21pm
You Might Be a Progressive If ...
In the propaganda wars that surround elections, political labels often become detached from reality. The leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama, has been called a "leftist" by Republican flacks and a "progressive" by some of his supporters. Others see Obama as a moderate Democrat only slightly less friendly to corporate capital and to the military-industrial complex than the Republican John McCain. It would be no surprise, then, if many people were wondering, Just who is a progressive?
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Wednesday, November 7, 2007 - 3:20pm
Common Wealth and the 'Entirely Self-Made' Myth
Every year since 1982 Forbes magazine has published a list of the 400 richest Americans. Anyone who wants to attach names and faces to the abstract notion of a "ruling class" should pick up a copy of the October 8, 2007, special issue. In profiling these richest of the rich, Forbes serves its self-proclaimed function as a "capitalist tool" -- not by offering advice on management strategies but by helping to manage popular consciousness.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006 - 1:06pm
Six Lessons for Young Men on the Edge of War
Military service was a rite of passage into adulthood for males in my family. My grandfather and two uncles served in the navy. One uncle served in the air force. And my father spent three years in the army. As a boy, it seemed natural that I too would enlist when I finished high school. The only question was, Which branch? Then Vietnam came along.
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Tuesday, April 11, 2006 - 1:03pm
Reproductive Freedom 101
Thirty years ago I learned the basic lessons that shaped my views on abortion. What I came to understand back then is that abortion is an essential right for women. But since that time, the anti-choice movement has stigmatized abortion so badly that many pro-choice people fail to defend it. The basic lessons about abortion are thus not being effectively passed on to the next generation. With the battle for women's reproductive freedom moving into a new phase of intensity, now seems like a good time for a review.
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Monday, August 2, 2004 - 1:09pm
New Tobacco Image Masks Deadly Business as Usual
Ten years ago the image of the tobacco industry stank like a dirty ashtray. As the annual death toll from tobacco-related diseases neared the 400,000 mark, many Americans were disgusted by the industry's continuing denial of the damage and suffering it caused. That disgust was heightened when, in congressional hearings held in the spring of 1994, the CEOs of the seven largest U.S. tobacco companies denied, under oath, that cigarettes cause disease and that nicotine is addictive.
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