The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone
by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett
This book was responsible for a very stimulating discussion in our book group. Although none of us doubted the basic premise that a more equal society has enormous benefits in every area of life, our debate reflected disagreements about the authors' use of data, their methodology and their conclusions.
It provoked a very lively debate in which we were critical of aspects of the book and the approaches taken, but most of us felt that there was a lot of profit in the exploration of the connections Wilkinson and Pickett make between a whole range of social issues and problems and questions of inequality. We spent some time reflecting on how one measures levels of inequality, and the ways in which politicians and the media use data selectively.
Clearly in a book covering so many issues, there are problems with simplification of complex ideas, and the authors appeared to have a stronger case with some of their conclusions than with others. We spent some time thinking about happiness and well-being, about liberty and choice, and about the ways in which societies have been changing. We considered global dimensions of demographic changes, consumption patterns and how one can meet the challenges of limited natural resources, and we thought a bit about growth, about how changes in social and economic structures might take place.
If your bookgroup likes a thought-provoking read, we can heartily recommend THE SPIRIT LEVEL.
Published by Penguin, 400pp.
St Germans Book Group