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The Legitimation of Structural Inequality: Reformulation and Test of the Self-Evaluation Argument

John F. Stolte
American Sociological Review
Vol. 48, No. 3 (Jun., 1983), pp. 331-342
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095226
Page Count: 12
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The Legitimation of Structural Inequality: Reformulation and Test of the Self-Evaluation Argument
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Abstract

Why does a disadvantaged actor, as well as an advantaged actor, often accept a structure of inequality as right, reasonable, and legitimate? The self-evaluation argument proposes that variation in objective resource level produces variation in self-evaluation, which, in turn, leads both deprived and privileged actors to accept their respective positions as legitimate. The argument is clarified through a reformulation that links exchange structural inequality, negotiation, and self-efficacy. The reformulation is experimentally tested. Though the results diametrically oppose a key implication of the reformulation, they stimulate thinking that further illuminates this core issue in the social psychology of stratification, and they lay a basis for further research.

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