The Ohio State University Sociology 345: Contemporary American Society Spring 2011 Instructor: Joshua Kjerulf Dubrow Lecture: Democratic America and Political Inequality
What is Inequality? Inequality is a situation in which people have unequal access to scarce and valued resources in society. Inequality is a social structure: it existed before societal members were born and will likely persist well after they die, and no one individual can change it.
Political inequality is structured differences in who influences the decisions of decision-makers. Decision-makers can be school councils, local government, state government and federal government (anyplace where politically-based decisions are made). Power is a situation in which people have the ability to realize their wants, desires and needs even though others oppose them.
POLITICAL INEQUALITY VOICE RESPONSE Participation Representation Electoral Non-Electoral Symbolic Policy Formal Informal Government Non-Governmental
American Political Science Association Task Force on Inequality and American Democracy (2004) : I deals of democracy “may be under growing threat in an era of persistent and rising inequalities.” The They argue that (a) economic inequality is rising, (b) racial and gender inequalities exist, and (c) these inequalities influence who makes the decisions, and what decisions are made, in government. Benjamin R. Barber , University of Maryland-College Park Larry M. Bartels , Princeton University Michael C. Dawson , Harvard University Morris Fiorina , Stanford University Jacob S. Hacker , Yale University Hugh Heclo , George Mason University Rodney E. Hero , University of Notre Dame Lawrence R. Jacobs , University of Minnesota, Chair Claire Jean Kim , University of California-Irvine Suzanne B. Mettler , Syracuse University Benjamin I. Page , Northwestern University Dianne M. Pinderhughes , University of Notre Dame Kay Lehman Schlozman , Boston College Theda Skocpol , Harvard University APSA Task Force Committee
Establishment of Formal Democratic Rights: Comparing the Constitutions of the U.S., Russia, and China U.S. , the first Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression, says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Russia , Article 29 states that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought and speech… The freedom of the mass media shall be guaranteed…,” Article 30 states that, “Everyone shall have the right to association, including the right to create trade unions in order to protect one's interests. …” and Article 31 states that “Citizens of the Russian Federation shall have the right to gather peacefully, without weapons, and to hold meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets.” China , Article 35, “Freedom of speech, press, assembly” states that “Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.”
“ There are different ways of trying to improve things in [name of a country] or help prevent things from going wrong. During the last 12 months, have you done any of the following? Have you: (a) contacted a politician, government or local government official? (b) worked in a political party or action group? (c) worked in another organization or association? (d) worn or displayed a campaign badge/sticker? (e) signed a petition? (f) taken part in a lawful public demonstration? (g) boycotted certain products?” Round 4 (2008) 25 Countries
The higher the level of democracy , the higher the level of political participation .
Table 1. Percent Women in Parliament 2011 Rank Country Lower House Upper House Average % W % W % W 1 Rwanda 56.3% 34.6% 45.5% 2 Sweden 45.0% --- 45.0% 3 South Africa 44.5% 29.6% 37.1% 4 Cuba 43.2% --- 43.2% 5 Iceland 42.9% --- 42.9% 6 Finland 40.0% --- 40.0% 7 Norway 39.6% --- 39.6% 8 Belgium 39.3% 36.6% 38.0% 8 Netherlands 39.3% 34.7% 37.0% 9 Mozambique 39.2% --- 39.2% 10 Angola 38.6% --- 38.6% 10 Costa Rica 38.6% --- 38.6% 66 Venezuela 17.0% --- 17.0% … 67 Turkmenistan 16.8% --- 16.8% 67 United States of America 16.8% 17.0% 16.9% 68 Bosnia and Herzegovina 16.7% 13.3% 15.0%
“ Using both summary measures of senators’ voting patterns and specific roll call votes on the minimum wage, civil rights, government spending, and abortion, I find that senators in this period were vastly more responsive to affluent constituents than to constituents of modest means… views of constituents in the upper third of the income distribution received about 50% more weight than those in the middle third, with even larger disparities on specific salient roll call votes. Meanwhile, the views of constituents in the bottom third of the income distribution received no weight at all in the voting decisions of their senators. Far from being “considered as political equals,” they were entirely unconsidered in the policy-making process” (253-4). Larry Bartels’ (2008) book, Unequal Democracy : The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age :