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11 - The Peculiar Politics of American Insecurity

from Part III - Politics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 August 2021

Frances McCall Rosenbluth
Affiliation:
Yale University, Connecticut
Margaret Weir
Affiliation:
Brown University, Rhode Island
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Summary

The growing insecurity of American households is often seen as an exogenous economic change beyond political control. In this chapter, we argue instead that it is to a very large extent a result of endogenous political and policy developments. Moreover, we suggest that many, though certainly not all, of these developments are specific to the United States. In particular, we focus on three: (1) the erosion of America’s distinctive framework of social provision, which is uniquely reliant on private risk pooling by employers; (2) the weakness of social solidarity and resonance of racial (rather than class) appeals in our increasingly polarized society; and (3) the growing extremism of the Republican Party, enabled and propelled by its capacity to forge an uneasy “plutocratic-populist” coalition of upscale economic conservatives and downscale social conservatives. Understanding these three developments is essential to grasping not just how America insecurity arose but also whether it might yet be addressed.

Type
Chapter
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Who Gets What?
The New Politics of Insecurity
, pp. 259 - 280
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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