Lecture 9 Feb 15

Lecture 9 Feb 15 - Inequality and American Democracy...

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Inequality and American Democracy Lecture 9 February 15, 2007 Economic Security Lost? 1) What’s Distinctive About the American Welfare State? a) Much smaller public-sector system of social provision (lack of national health insurance, universal family allowances, etc.) b) Much greater reliance on the private sector c) Much less redistribution of income from higher-income to lower-income citizens 2) Why is this so? a) Three basic families of arguments: i) American cultural distinctiveness: “The American state plays less of a role because Americans want it to play less of a role.” ii) Lesser role of class cleavages or prominence of other social cleavages: (1) Weakness of social-democratic parties/unions (2) Role of race as a cross-cutting cleavage/barrier to solidarity iii) American political institutions: the weakness and fragmentation of American political system 3) Importance of “Path Dependence” (path dependence: self-reinforcing historical processes) a)
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