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In: New Frontiers in Comparative Sociology
Author: Robert M. Marsh

Reviews of research on the causes of income inequality often limit themselves to the United States or highly industrialized societies. The present review seeks greater generalizability across societies at all levels of development. It covers cross-national studies published since the 1960s, which draw upon a variety of theories and test them empirically, with the result that that we can now identify a broad range of important causal variables that explain variations in income inequality both across societies and over time. These variables include: economic dualism and the Kuznets inverted-U hypothesis, demographic variables, human capital theory and the influence of a population’s level of education, educational inequality, and the race between education (skill) and technology, democracy, communist rule, factors of production, labor institutions, neoliberal globalization, and the effect of the state on inequality. The review suggests which of these variables have more robust effects, and which causal effects are more contested.

In: Comparative Sociology
Author: Robert M. Marsh

Abstract

Values are conceptions of the desirable in various domains of life. This study tests the hypotheses that (1) when Muslims are a minority living in a non-Islamic society (e.g., India, Singapore, Uganda), their values are more similar to those of the non-Muslim majority religion in their society than to those of Muslims in Muslim-majority Islamic societies (e.g., Iran, Morocco, Pakistan); and (2) this tendency toward value assimilation is more pronounced when the Muslim minority is socially included, rather than excluded, by the non-Muslim majority. Data from representative samples of the population of nine Muslim-majority societies and nine Muslim-minority societies in the 2000 (fourth) wave of the World Values Surveys are used to construct scales for three domains of cultural values: religious values, family values, and gender values, and measures of social exclusion. The findings largely confirm hypothesis 1 and lend some support to hypothesis 2.

In: Comparative Sociology
Author: Robert M. Marsh

Contrary to the pronouncements of Wallerstein, Alexander and others, modernization theory is far from dead. Publications on modernization theory have increased in number during each successive five-year period since 1970. I distinguish between modernization theory “then” – its formative period from 1949 to 1979, and “now” the period since the 1990s. Two main things have happened to the theory. First, some research findings in diverse sub-fields continue to vary with, and be explained by, societies’ level of modernization, thereby confirming the original modernization paradigm. Second, when other researchers discovered anomalies that could not be explained within the original theory, they did not abandon the theory. Instead, they creatively extended it in new directions that could account for the anomalies, using such concepts as reflexive modernization, risk society, first and second modernity, ecological modernization, evolutionary theory, values modernization, multiple modernities, and global modernity.

In: Comparative Sociology
Author: Robert M. Marsh

This paper uses Solt’s Standardized World Income Inequality Database and attempts to explain variations in Gini coefficients for net household income across 142 developing, transitional and developed societies. The causal model contains three sets of explanatory variables: (1) economic dualism, (2) educational attainment and educational inequality, and (3) political and state influences on income inequality. The most important cause of inequality is still the Kuznets effect: societies at low and high levels of development have less inequality than those at intermediate levels. Population growth increases inequality. Rising labor productivity in the agricultural relative to that in the non-agricultural sector, and being a former Soviet society reduce inequality. Educational attainment has less effect than educational inequality on income inequality. Government income transfers sometimes reduce inequality, but have no effect when all variables are in the model. Finally, liberal democracy has no net effect on inequality

In: Comparative Sociology
Author: Robert M. Marsh

Abstract

One of the problems Amartya Sen raised in his capabilities approach was: why do people in some societies realize a much lower level of various kinds of human capabilities than would be expected on the basis of their GDP per capita, while other societies do better than expected? This paper focuses on six capabilities and functionings: life expectancy, schooling, living in a society with less income inequality and less gender inequality, political freedom and life satisfaction. Empirically I start with data on 156 societies and use regression analysis and case diagnostics to identify societies that are extreme outliers. These are identified as Singapore, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, each of which does significantly worse than expected (given their relatively high level of economic development) on two or more of the six capabilities. I then use qualitative analysis to specify, through “process-tracing”, the causal mechanisms that explain why these particular societies are so “unbalanced” in the relationship between their economic development and their human capabilities.

In: Comparative Sociology
Author: Robert M. Marsh

Abstract

Research in the comparative cultural sociology of musical taste has been confined to Western societies. The present study tests hypotheses from Western research in a culturally different, East Asian society, Taiwan. The 1992 Taiwan survey asked a representative sample of the population which of ten types of music they liked or disliked. To a large extent, the Taiwan findings replicate those in the West. For example, high status, younger people are more likely to be omnivores, liking both highbrow and lowbrow music, while low status, older people tend toward the univore pole. The ten types of musical taste can be clustered into three more general, culturally distinct taste audiences.

In: Comparative Sociology
In: New Frontiers in Comparative Sociology
In: International Journal of Comparative Sociology