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This conclusion weaves together the wide-ranging contributions of this volume by considering data-driven personalisation as an internally self-sustaining (autopoietic) system. It observes that like other self-sufficient social systems, personalisation incorporates and processes new data and thereby redefines itself. In doing so it redefines the persons who participate in it, transforming them into ‘digital’ components of this new systems, as well as influencing social arrangements more broadly. The control that elite corporate and governmental entities have over systems of personalisation – which have been diversely described by contributors to this volume – reveals challenges in the taming of personalisation, specifically the limits of traditional means by which free persons address new phenomena – through consent as individuals, and democratic process collectively.
Why are democracies backsliding? I contend that a large productivity gap between economic groups motivates those with low productivity to capture the state for rent-seeking. They assess their relative position as weak and are willing to sacrifice certain democratic guarantees in exchange for favorable policies. Erosion takes two forms. (1) With high inter-class inequality and a large productivity gap among economic industries, losing economic elites capture the state through a political outsider who enacts favorable policy. Once in office, the outsider expands his personal executive control and attacks key democratic veto players. (2) When inter-class inequality is high but the inter-industry productivity gap is small, a united economic elite coordinate to stop a populist takeover. Traditional political elites respond to the populist threat by curtailing basic freedoms of speech and association. I use both quantitative and case study evidence from the US and Spain to support my main hypotheses.
In a novel experimental design, we investigate the impact of exogenous variation in economic growth and inequality on trusting behaviour. In addition to a control with uniform endowment, three treatments were implemented where the initial endowment is exogenously changed to produce inequality and three growth scenarios where average endowments increase (boom), decrease (recession) or remain unaltered (steady state). We find that aggregate trust and trustworthiness both decrease due to the induced heterogeneity in endowments. Also, trust (but not trustworthiness) decreases (increases) due to recessions (booms). The impact of inequality on trust is greatest in a recession and absent in a boom. These aggregate effects are driven mainly by the reactions of those who, after treatment, end up at the bottom of the endowment distribution. These findings are close in sign and in the order of magnitude to those reported in observational studies on the relationship between growth, inequality and trust.
This Element explores the longest spell that can be computed from quantifiable fiscal records when the gap between rich and poor narrowed. It was the post-Black-Death century, c. 1375 to c. 1475. Paradoxically, with economic equality and prosperity on the rise, peasants, artisans and shopkeepers suffered losses in political representation and status within cultural spheres. Threatened by growing economic equality after the Black Death, elites preserved and then enhanced their political, social, and cultural distinction predominantly through noneconomic means and within political and cultural spheres. By investigating the interactions between three 'elements'-economics, politics, and culture-this Element presents new facets in the emergence of early Renaissance society in Italy.
In 2007, a new Swiss Criminal Code became legally effective in which short prison sentences were to a large extent replaced by income-based day-fines. In addition, flat fines (fixed sums ranging from 1 to 10,000 Swiss francs) became more widely available as additional sanctions. Both fines and day-fines are to be converted into custody if they remain unpaid. Several thousand defendants are affected by such a conversion every year, but no systematic information has been collected on these cases. In order to fill this gap, the Department of Justice of the Canton of Zurich commissioned an evaluation on how often, under what circumstances and against what type of defendants monetary penalties are converted into custody. To this end, 447 case files were analyzed and a sample of 106 defendants serving a monetary sanction in prison were interviewed. Staff members and officials in charge of collecting monetary penalties were also interviewed. The results show that the most defendants serving monetary penalties in prison are confronted with multiple problems of integration. A second group were sentenced to substantial amounts of flat fines or day-fines that they or their networks were unable to pay.
We examine Thomas Piketty's explanations for steady and rising inequality in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the decline of inequality in the half-century after World War I, and the return of high levels of inequality since the 1970s. We specify empirical and conceptual problems with his analysis, which stem from his presentation of causality at a highly general and vague level. That leads him to confuse rather than clarify the causal relations among implacable economic forces, changes in technological innovation and population growth, ideology, and governmental policies and the outcomes that he seeks to explain. We identify social scientists and historians who are able to account for temporal and geographic variations in the political coalitions that propelled egalitarian reforms, and that in their absence cleared the terrain for reactionary anti-egalitarian policies that the rich incited for their narrow benefit. We explain why Piketty's limited conception of ideology is insufficient for explaining how mass opposition to inequality is mobilized. We show that if we want to combine the study of capital in the twenty-first century with that of politics, we need a broader conception of ideology than what Piketty offers, one that will allow us to specify how ideology affects parties, states, voters, and activists.
Women’s lives changed profoundly between 1960 and 2010. The main contribution to this was hormonal contraception and its impact on women’s mental and physical health. Mental health services changed from asylum-based inpatient facilities to community-based services and from male doctor–dominated organisations towards multidisciplinary collegiate teamwork. By 2010, discrimination and inequality persisted despite forty years of laws making these illegal. While many organisations now monitor gender equality data, research is needed to discover why inequality and discrimination are so resistant to change and what factors perpetuate this status quo. The effects of social stresses, economic or pandemic, seem to disproportionately burden women who work ‘double shifts’ to balance work and home commitments with predictably adverse effects on their mental and physical health.
This chapter discusses the paths of Spanish and Lusophone America from the late colonial period through independence for most of Latin America to 1870. Relative continuity from colony to independent empire in Brazil contrasts sharply with regime change from colonial to republican systems in mainland Spanish America. Late colonial economies expanded significantly. Trading systems were transformed in the later eighteenth century; mining and slavery-based staple exports expanded fast, as did market integration within Latin America. Indicators of living standards show great diversity but paint a relatively positive picture until at least the last quarter of the eighteenth century. War and independence in the early nineteenth century knocked mainland Spanish America off its path of preindustrial expansion, while Brazil continued to expand. Rather than a ‘reversal of fortune’ new Spanish American republics faced the costs of a transition from a corporate political economy to an incipient republican one. It destroyed the fiscal basis of the state, led to increased concentration of landholdings, and dislocated goods and financial markets. Also, weak states failed to replace corporate structures of protections of the weaker social strata with individual access to legal protections. Regime change created opportunities for growth in the long run, but its immediate result was more inequality and falling living standards for significant parts of the population.
During the last century and a half, average world income grew tenfold, the composition of output and relative factor returns shifted, and globalization occurred. Consumption per person has grown over time, but more slowly than GDP per capita, as the share of private consumption declined, although this was partly offset by the rising share of public consumption. Income inequality within countries fell from the early to the late twentieth century and has risen in recent decades. Living standards improved across the world, but the gap between the West and the Rest increased, and between-country inequality widened over time until the 1990s, when the trend reversed. Among world inhabitants, income distribution has followed a similar trend, with inequality increasing up to 1990 and declining in the twenty-first century. Impressive long-run gains in human development have taken place in the world without being interrupted by the economic slowdown and globalization backlash during 1914–50.
This article reviews three books that offer thought-provoking insights on a central political science question, namely the relationship between capitalism and democracy in the twenty-first century. First, ‘Democracy and Prosperity’ by Iversen and Soskice posits a symbiotic relationship between capitalism and democracy. Advanced capital thrives on nationally rooted institutions, hence it needs democratic politics. A majority of voters ask for pro-advanced-capital reforms, hence democratic politics needs advanced capital. Second, ‘Capitalism, Alone’ by Milanovic depicts a troubled coexistence between capitalism and democracy. The former's tendency to concentrate economic and political power in the hands of the few is the main reason why democratic politics is under pressure. Third, ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’ by Zuboff suggests a negative relationship between digital capitalism and democracy. Surveillance capitalism increasingly acts as a control means of individuals' behaviour, which undermines democracy at its roots. The last section brings the three contributions together. It maintains that a mutually beneficial coexistence between capitalism and democracy currently faces both internal (from within) and external (from without) challenges. In line with Milanovic and Zuboff, it argues that the concentration of economic and political power in the hands of the few is the most apparent from-within challenge. Drawing on Milanovic, it contends that rise of China as a global power combining capitalism with non-democracy challenges the relationship between capitalism and democracy from without. Finally, it contends that the environmental question and the pandemic represent two windows of opportunity for democracy to recover lost ground and re-establish a more balanced relationship with capitalism.
Connections that help us feel valued and add value impact our health, happiness, love, work, and society. The consequences of mattering or not mattering can be seen everywhere, at every age. The lack of mattering often results in depression, suicide, and even aggression and xenophobia. People who suffer from depression, workers who feel alienated, and citizens whose identity is threatened feel devalued. They feel that their lives, work, and identity do not matter. While some respond to this situation by internalizing feelings of despondence, others overcompensate by nurturing feelings of superiority and joining nationalistic movements headed by authoritarian leaders. Feeling devalued or overvalued, in relationships, at work, and in the world, is one of the most serious threats facing us. They derive from a failure to foster mattering. They results can be disastrous for individuals and society as a whole. When disaffected masses feel that their identity is devalued in society, they respond in one of two ways. They either turn toward nationalism and extremism, as in the case of xenophobic movements, or they protest to defend their rights.
A foundational tenet of a healthy abundant community is that all of us have gifts – of the head, the heart, or the hand. For gifts to have meaning, they must be exchanged. When we create spaces for capacities and vulnerabilities to be shared, we give life to a sense of belonging. We bring our full person to the table. Associations afford people an opportunity to exchange strengths and weaknesses, sorrow and joy, resilience and fallibility. Friendship and trust emerge in communities where people balance association with similar and different people. Robert Putnam from Harvard captured this dual need in the distinction between bonding and bridging social capital. The former refers to association with like-minded people. The latter to connections with people from other backgrounds. Communities that balance bridging with bonding are healthier and stronger. They achieve better outcomes in terms of population health, education, and safety. Discrimination and inequality erode mattering in the community. Inequality of worth can be created by a number of social identifiers: money, race, class, education, disability, gender orientation, looks, language or ethnic origin.
Around the 1830s, parts of Mexico began industrializing using water and wood. By the 1880s, this model faced a growing energy and ecological bottleneck. By the 1950s, fossil fuels powered most of Mexico's economy and society. Looking to the north and across the Atlantic, late nineteenth-century officials and elites concluded that fossil fuels would solve Mexico's energy problem and Mexican industry began introducing coal. But limited domestic deposits and high costs meant that coal never became king in Mexico. Oil instead became the favored fuel for manufacture, transport, and electricity generation. This shift, however, created a paradox of perennial scarcity amidst energy abundance: every new influx of fossil energy led to increased demand. Germán Vergara shows how the decision to power the country's economy with fossil fuels locked Mexico in a cycle of endless, fossil-fueled growth - with serious environmental and social consequences.
Research on the politics of social investment finds public opinion to be highly supportive of expansive reforms and expects this support to matter for the politics of expanding social investment. Expanding social investment, it is argued, should be particularly attractive to left-wing voters and parties because of the egalitarian potential of such policies. However, few studies have examined to what extent individual preferences concerning social investment really matter politically. In this paper, I address this research gap for the crucial policy field of childcare by examining how individual-level preferences for expanding childcare provision translate into voting behavior. Based on original survey data from eight European countries, I find that preferences to expand public childcare spending indeed translate into electoral support for the left. However, this link from preferences to votes turns out to be socially biased. Childcare preferences are much more decisive for voting the further up individuals are in the income distribution. This imperfect transmission from preferences to voting behavior implies that political parties could have incentives to target the benefits of childcare reforms to their more affluent voters. My findings help to explain why governments frequently fail to reduce social inequality of access to seemingly egalitarian childcare provision.
I compare pre-tax and post-tax wealth levels and trends after netting out implicit taxes on tax-deferred assets and accrued capital gains. The analysis covers 1983–2016 for net worth (NW) and augmented wealth (AW), which includes pension and Social Security wealth. Netting out implicit taxes substantially reduces growth in mean and median NW and AW. However, the upward trajectory in NW and AW inequality is basically unchanged from using post-tax values. I also introduce bequest wealth, the value of the estate including death benefits. It is notably more equal than NW and has grown faster over time.
Scholars have long been concerned with the implications of income inequality for democracy. Conventional wisdom suggests that high income inequality is associated with political parties taking polarized positions as the left advocates for increased redistribution while the right aims to entrench the position of economic elites. This article argues that the connection between party positions and income inequality depends on how party bases are sorted by income and the issue content of national elections. It uses data from European national elections from 1996 to 2016 to show that income inequality has a positive relationship with party polarization on economic issues when partisans are sorted with respect to income and when economic issues are relatively salient in elections. When these factors are weak, however, the author finds no relationship between income inequality and polarization.
This chapter explores the rhetorical framing of GSCs in US politics in the context of rising inequality and shifting geopolitics. A growing body of international political economy has focused on the distributional consequences of globalization for demographic groups in the global North and South, and this chapter looks at how political actors’ interpretations of GSCs have framed contemporary debates over trade. The chapter analyzes the debate over trade centered on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement during the 2016 US presidential primary and general election campaigns. When expressing their support for or opposition to the TPP, candidates largely relied on conventional protectionist and liberal framings of trade. With a handful of exceptions, the specificities of GSCs were absent from the political debate surrounding the TPP on the presidential campaign trail, despite the dominance of GSCs in the trade relationships covered by the treaty. Nonetheless, the effect of supply chains on international trade was implicitly reflected in candidates’ identification of the uneven distributional consequences of contemporary trade policies.
A welfare state’s tax system does not solely redistribute from rich to poor (vertical) but also between family types (horizontal). Different types of families are treated differently due to gendered (de)familialization policies in the tax code, such as joint filing for spouses or single-parent relief. In this study I aim to examine the tax system’s modification of horizontal income inequality between the six most prevalent family types of non-retiree households. To answer my research aim I draw on harmonized data from 30 countries provided by the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS). I estimate pre- and post-fiscal income inequality measured as between-family-type Theil indices. Using multivariate linear regression, I examine the association of the percentage change in inequality and the prevalence of family type-related tax characteristics. The results show that welfare states with familialization tax policies reduce less horizontal income inequality compared to welfare states without familialization tax policies. As familialization tax policies provide additional benefits for breadwinners with dependents, they discourage labour market participation of secondary earners and might exacerbate gender inequalities.
“There are districts in which the position of the rural population is that of a man standing permanently up to the neck in water, so that even a ripple is sufficient to drown him.” With this epigraph, invoking the words of economic historian R. H. Tawney, James C. Scott launched The Moral Economy of the Peasant. His pathbreaking second book describes the social and cultural repertoires through which Southeast Asian peasantries struggled in the 1930s to dampen the ripples and torrents of political and economic change, in an effort to keep their heads above water. In the years since its publication, and despite this seemingly delimited focus, The Moral Economy of the Peasant has generated considerable ripples of its own, energizing the waters through which it has moved over the last four decades. A number of excellent reviews have delved deeply into the origins, inspiration, and impact of this work. Building on these, this short essay attempts to grapple with its intellectual energy, to understand something of how The Moral Economy of the Peasant became, and remains, a touchstone within and beyond the interdisciplinary field of Asian studies.