Distributional issues are at the core of the study of politics -- Harrold Laswell defines politics as who gets what, how, and when. So naturally, economic inequality features prominently among the central themes in the study of politics. This centrality is reflected in the significant increase in quantity and quality in the subject’s research over the last two decades, particularly in the last few years.
In this class, we will focus on the two-way relationship between inequality and politics in three parts. The first one is devoted to addressing some normative and conceptual issues: under what conditions are inequalities fair? What are the most prominent dimensions of inequality, and what are the key strategies to measure and interpret them? What are the core market forces behind the recent rise in income and wealth inequalities across the world? The second part of the class explores the role of politics in determining different types of inequality. We focus specifically on the political economy of wealth inequality, income redistribution, and the distribution of economic opportunities as an engine behind different mobility regimes. Finally, the third part of the seminar explores the political consequences associated with the growing spread of income and wealth inequalities. We pay particular attention to the relationship between economic and political inequality, defined as inequalities in political engagement and political influence, between economic inequality and significant political and institutional crises. In addition, we closely look at the connection between inequality and political polarization with an empirical focus on the recent political developments. The material in this course is genuinely inter-disciplinary and combines readings from economics, political science, and history.
There are no formal prerequisites for this course. Still, since we read advanced texts on comparative political economy, it helps to have some background in statistics and economics, in addition to comparative politics. Therefore, I will go through complex concepts in economics and statistics when necessary. However, with hard work, you will do well in this course without any preparation in economics or statistics.
For more information, please see: POLS409C_Syllabus.pdf