Inequality has ballooned, wealth has become more concentrated, and the United States continues to maintain one of the highest poverty rates in the developed world. Inequality ranks among one of the biggest challenges of our time and remains deeply tied to negative trends in American political life.
Yet, research on the political dimensions of economic inequality has lagged these developments. More troubling, in current debates concerning inequality, the crucial roles of politics, policy, and political institutions are mostly overlooked, leading to discussions that posit the market as the primary driver and relegate politics to the background.
A core intuition behind the creation of I-CSI is that governments create and oversee markets, policy creates how we prevent, produce, or combat inequality, and political actors and institutions design policies and regulations, and shape the political contexts that bear directly on inequality.
In turn, how citizens experience politics and how governing institutions resolve pressing problems can also be greatly influenced by the increasing cleavage between the haves and the have-nots.
- How do economic disparities affect the quality of our democracy and the functioning of our democratic system?
- How has inequality shaped citizens’ feelings in terms of equal and fair treatment?
- How has inequality shaped citizens’ faith in the ability of political institutions to act and govern?
- How has inequality informed citizens’ voices in the public sphere and the possibility of uniting with others around shared interests?