May 18, 2024  
College Catalog 2015-2016 
College Catalog 2015-2016 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

AMST 203 - Politics and Inequality

Cross-Listed as POLI 203 
Americans, at least since the Founding era, have cherished the ideal of political equality. Unlike European nations, the United States did not inherit economic class distinctions from a feudal past. But time and again, American social reformers and mass movements have highlighted inconsistencies between the value of equality and the actual practice of democracy. Through the extension of rights to citizens who were previously excluded or treated as second-class citizens, such as women and African Americans, the polity has become more inclusive. But over the last three decades American citizens have grown increasingly unequal in terms of income and wealth. The central question posed by this course is the implications of such vast economic inequality for American democracy. Do these disparities between citizens curtail, limit, and perhaps threaten the functioning of genuinely representative governance? In this course will 1) Explore what other social scientists, mostly economists and sociologists, know about contemporary inequality, particularly in terms of its causes, manifestation, and socio-economic effects; 2) Consider the concept of inequality in political theory and in American political thought, and; 3) Examine the current relationship between economic inequality and each of three major aspects of the American political system: political voice, representation, and public policy. (4 Credits)