Lynne Rienner Publishers Logo

Race, Class, and the State in Contemporary Sociology: The William Julius Wilson Debates

Jack Niemonen
Race, Class, and the State in Contemporary Sociology: The William Julius Wilson Debates
ISBN: 978-1-58826-010-9
ISBN: 978-1-58826-952-2
2002/309 pages/LC: 2001058462

"The first comprehensive overview of [Wilson's] work.... A book that is no mere celebratory statement, but rather a sincere effort to interrogate shortcomings, omissions, and inadequacies in Wilson's arguments as well as acknowledge the key moments of scholarly advance offered in his work."—Alford A. Young, Ethnic and Racial Studies

"An important book. Niemonen deals with the empirical issues raised by Wilson's work in a more comprehensive way than anything I have ever read.... fair but tough-minded."—Neil McLaughlin


A comprehensive guide to the current race-class debate in sociology, Race,Class, and the State traces the evolution of the controversy and analyzes current trends in the field.

Focusing on the work legacy of William Julius Wilson and the arguments of his longstanding critics, Niemonen deftly illustrates the strengths, weaknesses, and influence of Wilson's work. His fair-minded but critical analysis calls for a major shift in how sociology conceptualizes race relations—a shift that challenges popular assumptions and contemporary vocabularies and brings to the forefront the role of the state.


Jack Niemonen is professor of sociology at the University of South Dakota.


  • Introduction: The Race Relations Problematic in Sociology.
  • Studying Race and Class: Problems of Logical and Empirical Adequacy.
  • Debates Surrounding The Declining Significance of Race.
  • The Truly Disadvantaged and When Work Disappears: Critiques.
  • Wilson's Achilles' Heel: The Continuing Significance of Racially-Based Segregation.
  • Conclusion: Bringing Back the State: A Bridge Over the Theoretical Divide.