Free and open to the public
SERIES: A New Social Compact? Rising Inequality, Intransigent Poverty, and the Path ForwardIn 2004, Stanford established the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (known colloquially as IRiSS, and pronounced like the flower) to give social scientists—economists, sociologists, political scientists, and others—the space and leisure to work on focused research projects. Last year, Stanford Continuing Studies began a collaboration with IRiSS to bring some of the Institute’s research findings to the broader public. In this second annual series, IRiSS invited the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality to co-sponsor three programs devoted to the study of economic and social inequality which now characterize much of American life. Each talk will offer compelling historic and comparative analyses, and explore practicable solutions. Building Oligarchy: Are There Links Between Economic and Political Inequality in the United States?It is a recognized fact that economic inequality is growing in the United States. One of the gravest dangers of this situation is that the unequal concentration of economic resources could generate increased political inequality, which in turn might lead to government policies that perpetuate or further increase economic inequality. With notable exceptions, most political scientists have argued that there isn’t empirical evidence for such a tight linkage between economics and politics. In this talk, Paul Pierson will briefly outline their rationale before suggesting why he believes that it is mostly mistaken. He will argue that, in fact, there is reason to fear a much greater impact of economic inequality on American governance, and ample reason to worry that politics is now a major channel for the self-perpetuation of economic elites. This program is co-sponsored by Stanford Continuing Studies, IRiSS, the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, the Department of Sociology, and the Program on Urban Studies.
Paul Pierson, John Gross Professor of Political Science, UC Berkeley
Paul Pierson is co-director of the Successful Societies Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His research focuses on American and comparative public policy and political economy. His most recent book, co-authored by Jacob Hacker, is American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper.