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In the twentieth century, the United States ended some of its most flagrant inequalities. The "rights revolution" ended statutory prohibitions against women’s suffrage and opened the doors of voting booths to African Americans. Yet a more insidious form of inequality has emerged since the 1970s—economic inequality—which appears to have stalled and, in some arenas, reversed In the twentieth century, the United States ended some of its most flagrant inequalities. The "rights revolution" ended statutory prohibitions against women’s suffrage and opened the doors of voting booths to African Americans. Yet a more insidious form of inequality has emerged since the 1970s—economic inequality—which appears to have stalled and, in some arenas, reversed progress toward realizing American ideals of democracy. In Inequality and American Democracy, editors Lawrence Jacobs and Theda Skocpol headline a distinguished group of political scientists in assessing whether rising economic inequality now threatens hard-won victories in the long struggle to achieve political equality in the United States. Inequality and American Democracy addresses disparities at all levels of the political and policy-making process. Kay Lehman Scholzman, Benjamin Page, Sidney Verba, and Morris Fiorina demonstrate that political participation is highly unequal and strongly related to social class. They show that while economic inequality and the decreasing reliance on volunteers in political campaigns serve to diminish their voice, middle class and working Americans lag behind the rich even in protest activity, long considered the political weapon of the disadvantaged. Larry Bartels, Hugh Heclo, Rodney Hero, and Lawrence Jacobs marshal evidence that the U.S. political system may be disproportionately responsive to the opinions of wealthy constituents and business. They argue that the rapid growth of interest groups and the increasingly strict party-line voting in Congress imperils efforts at enacting policies that are responsive to the preferences of broad publics and to their interests in legislation that extends economic and social opportunity. Jacob Hacker, Suzanne Mettler, and Dianne Pinderhughes demonstrate the feedbacks of government policy on political participation and inequality. In short supply today are inclusive public policies like the G.I. Bill, Social Security legislation, the War on Poverty, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that changed the American political climate, mobilized interest groups, and altered the prospect for initiatives to stem inequality in the last fifty years. Inequality and American Democracy tackles the complex relationships between economic, social, and political inequality with authoritative insight, showcases a new generation of critical studies of American democracy, and highlights an issue of growing concern for the future of our democratic society.


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In the twentieth century, the United States ended some of its most flagrant inequalities. The "rights revolution" ended statutory prohibitions against women’s suffrage and opened the doors of voting booths to African Americans. Yet a more insidious form of inequality has emerged since the 1970s—economic inequality—which appears to have stalled and, in some arenas, reversed In the twentieth century, the United States ended some of its most flagrant inequalities. The "rights revolution" ended statutory prohibitions against women’s suffrage and opened the doors of voting booths to African Americans. Yet a more insidious form of inequality has emerged since the 1970s—economic inequality—which appears to have stalled and, in some arenas, reversed progress toward realizing American ideals of democracy. In Inequality and American Democracy, editors Lawrence Jacobs and Theda Skocpol headline a distinguished group of political scientists in assessing whether rising economic inequality now threatens hard-won victories in the long struggle to achieve political equality in the United States. Inequality and American Democracy addresses disparities at all levels of the political and policy-making process. Kay Lehman Scholzman, Benjamin Page, Sidney Verba, and Morris Fiorina demonstrate that political participation is highly unequal and strongly related to social class. They show that while economic inequality and the decreasing reliance on volunteers in political campaigns serve to diminish their voice, middle class and working Americans lag behind the rich even in protest activity, long considered the political weapon of the disadvantaged. Larry Bartels, Hugh Heclo, Rodney Hero, and Lawrence Jacobs marshal evidence that the U.S. political system may be disproportionately responsive to the opinions of wealthy constituents and business. They argue that the rapid growth of interest groups and the increasingly strict party-line voting in Congress imperils efforts at enacting policies that are responsive to the preferences of broad publics and to their interests in legislation that extends economic and social opportunity. Jacob Hacker, Suzanne Mettler, and Dianne Pinderhughes demonstrate the feedbacks of government policy on political participation and inequality. In short supply today are inclusive public policies like the G.I. Bill, Social Security legislation, the War on Poverty, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that changed the American political climate, mobilized interest groups, and altered the prospect for initiatives to stem inequality in the last fifty years. Inequality and American Democracy tackles the complex relationships between economic, social, and political inequality with authoritative insight, showcases a new generation of critical studies of American democracy, and highlights an issue of growing concern for the future of our democratic society.

30 review for Inequality and American Democracy: What We Know and What We Need to Learn: What We Know and What We Need to Learn

  1. 4 out of 5

    Steven Peterson

    This is a book sponsored by the American Political Science Association. It has addressed the question of the implications of income inequality for democracy--specifically American democracy. The introduction, authored by editors Lawrence Jacobs and Theda Skocpol, begins with this quotation (Page 1): "Equal political voice and democratically responsive government are widely cherished American ideals--yet as the United States aggressively promotes democracy abroad, these principles are under growin This is a book sponsored by the American Political Science Association. It has addressed the question of the implications of income inequality for democracy--specifically American democracy. The introduction, authored by editors Lawrence Jacobs and Theda Skocpol, begins with this quotation (Page 1): "Equal political voice and democratically responsive government are widely cherished American ideals--yet as the United States aggressively promotes democracy abroad, these principles are under growing threat in an era of persistent and rising inequalities at home." The introduction raises the issue of what is at stake with increased income inequality in the United States. This book has five different chapters, each looking at the relationship of inequality and democracy. The final chapter, also by the editors, is more of a set of questions raised about the thesis of the book than an analytical chapter. To illustrate the content, let us take a look at one of the substantive chapters. In a chapter authored by Kay Lehman Schlozman, Benjamin Page, Sidney Verba, and Morris Fiorina, we read that data show that the inequality of political voice continues. Those who are wealthiest are most apt to participate; political leaders are most likely to follow the voice of those who participate. Hence, a subtle bias in favor of the better off, so the argument goes. Let us take a look at economic inequality trends in the United States. In the volume Inequality and American Democracy, the authors provide some statistics on trends in inequality. From 1947 to 1973, family income growth was pretty even across the various fifths of the population by income (see the chart on page 4). E.g., the poorest fifth of the population saw incomes increase 115.3% over that period, whereas the fifth of the population who made the most saw their incomes increase 84%. A rising tide lifts all boats--and all income fifths. In short, each income grouping experiences substantial growths in income. From 1973 to 2000? A fundamentally different picture. The poorest fifth saw an income increase of a modest 10.3% while the richest fifth saw their incomes rise by 61.6%. The book is provocative and worth taking a look at. It is rather disappointing that the number of chapters dealing substantively with the issues at stake is so low. Taking into account the editors' opening chapter and their final chapter, there are only three others dealing with the heart of the matter. Nonetheless, for those interested in the issues involved--whether pro or con--this volume raises issues that ought to be thoroughly discussed.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shirley Turnbull

    Understanding the fraught relationship between capitalism and democracy in the United States and beyond.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Bobker

  4. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Brown

  5. 5 out of 5

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  6. 5 out of 5

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  10. 4 out of 5

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  11. 5 out of 5

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  12. 5 out of 5

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  13. 5 out of 5

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  14. 5 out of 5

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  15. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  16. 4 out of 5

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  17. 4 out of 5

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  18. 4 out of 5

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  19. 4 out of 5

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  20. 5 out of 5

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  21. 5 out of 5

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  22. 5 out of 5

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  23. 5 out of 5

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  24. 5 out of 5

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  25. 4 out of 5

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  26. 4 out of 5

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  27. 4 out of 5

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  28. 4 out of 5

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  29. 5 out of 5

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  30. 4 out of 5

    James

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