A practical sociology text and action guide that uses research, theory and statistical analysis to examine systemic hate.
Dumont (Economic Inequality and What YOU Can Do About It, 2012) identifies intolerance, extremism and hate as fundamental obstacles to prosperity. “Hate corrupts us, diminishes us, and it is destructive, both of the haters themselves, and of the targets of their hate,” Dumont writes, and he opens his book with supportive quotations from an array of voices, from Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to Elvis Presley. The book’s early chapters highlight and summarize established research on hate, prejudice and related issues, with lengthy passages extracted from notable works by sociologist Theodore Kemper and psychologists Gordon Allport and Robert and Karin Sternberg, among others. The way the book weaves psychological, physiological and sociological tenets together is somewhat rocky, but justifiable, as it asserts that feelings and expressions of hate are multifactorial and difficult to explain and combat. This work is largely a continuation of the author’s previous book and his 2010 Evolutionary Psychology article “High Religiosity and Societal Dysfunction in the United States during the First Decade of the Twenty-First Century.” He argues a correlation between social and economic inequality and what he calls “manifest hate”: speech or action maligning a class of people based on identifiable characteristics like race or religion, as measured by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which lists active U.S. hate groups in its quarterly Intelligence Report. Using SPLC data, Dumont creates a composite ratio called the State Hate Index—each state’s percentage of the nation’s hate groups, divided by its percentage of the national population. Averaging ratios for 2008 and 2009, he arrives at a “Hate Rate” for every state and the District of Columbia and compares these with figures on income, life expectancy, religiosity and incarceration, among other statistics, using diagrams. The author’s informal “down-to-earth sociology” approach is hit-or-miss and complicated by repetition and digression. The book draws conclusions in broad strokes and frequently directs readers to read further in other works for full explanations. The concluding chapter is somewhat thin, although it’s enthusiastic and well referenced, like the rest of the text.
An expertly researched work, but a choppy, unbalanced read.