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Political Trust in Argentina and Mexico
Some theorists claim that democracy cannot work without trust. According to this argument, democracy fails unless citizens trust that their governing institutions are serving their best interests. Similarly, some assert that democracy works best when people trust one another and have confidence that politicians will look after citizen interests. Questioning such claims, Democracy and the Culture of Skepticism, by Matthew Cleary and Susan Stokes, suggests that skepticism, not trust, is the hallmark of political culture in well-functioning democracies. Drawing on extensive research in two developing democracies, Argentina and Mexico, Democracy and the Culture of Skepticism shows that in regions of each country with healthy democracies, people do not trust one another more than those living in regions where democracy functions less well, nor do they display more personal trust in governments or politicians. Instead, the defining features of the healthiest democracies are skepticism of government and a belief that politicians act in their constituents' best interest only when it is personally advantageous for them to do so. In contrast to scholars who lament what they see as a breakdown in civic life, Cleary and Stokes find that people residing in healthy democracies do not participate more in civic organizations than others, but in fact, tend to retreat from civic life in favor of private pursuits. The authors conclude that governments are most efficient and responsive when they know that institutions such as the press or an independent judiciary will hold them accountable for their actions. The question of how much citizens should trust politicians and governments has consumed political theorists since America's founding. In Democracy and the Culture of Skepticism, Matthew Cleary and Susan Stokes test the relationship between trust and the quality of governance, showing that it is not trust, but vigilance and skepticism that provide the foundation for well-functioning democracies.
The gap between the richest and poorest Americans has grown steadily over the last thirty years, and economic inequality is on the rise in many other industrialized democracies as well. But the magnitude and pace of the increase differs dramatically across nations. A country’s political system and its institutions play a critical role in determining levels of inequality in a society. Democracy, Inequality, and Representation argues that the reverse is also true—inequality itself shapes political systems and institutions in powerful and often overlooked ways. In Democracy, Inequality, and Representation, distinguished political scientists and economists use a set of international databases to examine the political causes and consequences of income inequality. The volume opens with an examination of how differing systems of political representation contribute to cross-national variations in levels of inequality. Torben Iverson and David Soskice calculate that taxes and income transfers help reduce the poverty rate in Sweden by over 80 percent, while the comparable figure for the United States is only 13 percent. Noting that traditional economic models fail to account for this striking discrepancy, the authors show how variations in electoral systems lead to very different outcomes. But political causes of disparity are only one part of the equation. The contributors also examine how inequality shapes the democratic process. Pablo Beramendi and Christopher Anderson show how disparity mutes political voices: at the individual level, citizens with the lowest incomes are the least likely to vote, while high levels of inequality in a society result in diminished electoral participation overall. Thomas Cusack, Iverson, and Philipp Rehm demonstrate that uncertainty in the economy changes voters’ attitudes; the mere risk of losing one’s job generates increased popular demand for income support policies almost as much as actual unemployment does. Ronald Rogowski and Duncan McRae illustrate how changes in levels of inequality can drive reforms in political institutions themselves. Increased demand for female labor participation during World War II led to greater equality between men and women, which in turn encouraged many European countries to extend voting rights to women for the first time. The contributors to this important new volume skillfully disentangle a series of complex relationships between economics and politics to show how inequality both shapes and is shaped by policy. Democracy, Inequality, and Representation provides deeply nuanced insight into why some democracies are able to curtail inequality—while others continue to witness a division that grows ever deeper.
Making Institutions Work
What are the essential elements of a democracy? How can nations ensure a political voice for all citizens, and design a government that will respond to those varied voices? These perennial questions resonate strongly in the midst of ongoing struggles to defend democratic institutions around the world and here at home. In Designing Democratic Government, a group of distinguished political scientists provides a landmark cross-national analysis of the institutions that either facilitate or constrain the healthy development of democracy. The contributors to Designing Democratic Government use the democratic ideals of fairness, competitiveness, and accountability as benchmarks to assess a wide variety of institutions and practices. John Leighly and Jonathan Nagler find that in the U.S., the ability to mobilize voters across socioeconomic lines largely hinges on the work of non-party groups such as civic associations and unions, which are far less likely than political parties to engage in class-biased outreach efforts. Michael McDonald assesses congressional redistricting methods and finds that court-ordered plans and close adherence to the Voting Rights Act effectively increase the number of competitive electoral districts, while politically-drawn maps reduce the number of competitive districts. John Carey and John Polga-Hecimovich challenge the widespread belief that primary elections produce inferior candidates. Analyzing three decades worth of comprehensive data on Latin American presidential campaigns, they find that primaries impart a stamp of legitimacy on candidates, helping to engage voters and mitigate distrust in the democratic process. And Kanchan Chandra proposes a paradigm shift in the way we think about ethnic inclusion in democracies: nations should design institutions that actively promote—rather than merely accommodate—diversity. At a moment when democracy seems vulnerable both at home and abroad, Designing Democratic Government sorts through a complex array of practices and institutions to outline what works and what doesn’t in new and established democracies alike. The result is a volume that promises to change the way we look at the ideals of democracy worldwide.
The Politics of Teen Childbearing
Teen childbearing has risen to frighteningly high levels over the last four decades, jeopardizing the life chances of young parents and their offspring alike, particularly among minority communities. Or at least, that’s what politicians on the right and left often tell us, and what the American public largely believes. But sociologist Frank Furstenberg argues that the conventional wisdom distorts reality. In Destinies of the Disadvantaged, Furstenberg traces the history of public concern over teen pregnancy, exploring why this topic has become so politically powerful, and so misunderstood. Based on over forty years of Furstenberg’s research on teen childbearing, Destinies of the Disadvantaged relates how the issue emerged from obscurity to become one of the most heated social controversies in America. Both slipshod research by social scientists and opportunistic grandstanding by politicians have contributed to public misunderstanding of the issue. Although out-of-wedlock teen pregnancy rose notably between 1960 and 1990—a cause for concern given the burdens of single motherhood at a young age—this trend did not reflect a rise in the rate of overall teen pregnancies. In fact, teen pregnancy actually declined dramatically in the 1960s and 1970s. The number of unmarried teenage mothers rose after 1960, not because more young women became pregnant, but because those who did increasingly chose not to rush into marriage. Furstenberg shows how early social science research on this topic exaggerated the adverse consequences of early parenthood both for young parents and for their children. Researchers also inaccurately portrayed single teenage motherhood as a phenomenon concentrated among minorities. Both of these misapprehensions skewed subsequent political debates. The issue became a public obsession and remained so during the 1990s, even as rates of out-of-wedlock teen childbearing plummeted. Addressing teen pregnancy was originally a liberal cause, led by advocates of family planning services, legalized abortion, and social welfare programs for single mothers. The issue was later adopted by conservatives, who argued that those liberal remedies were encouraging teen parenthood. According to Furstenberg, the flexible political usefulness of the issue explains its hold on political discourse. The politics of teen parenthood is a fascinating case study in the abuse of social science for political ends. In Destinies of the Disadvantaged, Furstenberg brings that tale to life with the perspective of a historian and the insight of an insider, and provides the straight facts needed to craft effective policies to address teen pregnancy.
Unskilled workers once flocked to Detroit, attracted by manufacturing jobs paying union wages, but the passing of Detroit's manufacturing heyday has left many of those workers stranded. Manufacturing continues to employ high-skilled workers, and new work can be found in suburban service jobs, but the urban plants that used to employ legions of unskilled men are a thing of the past. The authors explain why white auto workers adjusted to these new conditions more easily than blacks. Taking advantage of better access to education and suburban home loans, white men migrated into skilled jobs on the city's outskirts, while blacks faced the twin barriers of higher skill demands and hostile suburban neighborhoods. Some blacks have prospered despite this racial divide: a black elite has emerged, and the shift in the city toward municipal and service jobs has allowed black women to approach parity of earnings with white women. But Detroit remains polarized racially, economically, and geographically to a degree seen in few other American cities.
Practice, Theory, and Research on Intergroup Dialogue
Due to continuing immigration and increasing racial and ethnic inclusiveness, higher education institutions in the United States are likely to grow ever more diverse in the 21st century. This shift holds both promise and peril: Increased inter-ethnic contact could lead to a more fruitful learning environment that encourages collaboration. On the other hand, social identity and on-campus diversity remain hotly contested issues that often raise intergroup tensions and inhibit discussion. How can we help diverse students learn from each other and gain the competencies they will need in an increasingly multicultural America? Dialogue Across Difference synthesizes three years’ worth of research from an innovative field experiment focused on improving intergroup understanding, relationships and collaboration. The result is a fascinating study of the potential of intergroup dialogue to improve relations across race and gender. First developed in the late 1980s, intergroup dialogues bring together an equal number of students from two different groups – such as people of color and white people, or women and men – to share their perspectives and learn from each other. To test the possible impact of such courses and to develop a standard of best practice, the authors of Dialogue Across Difference incorporated various theories of social psychology, higher education, communication studies and social work to design and implement a uniform curriculum in nine universities across the country. Unlike most studies on intergroup dialogue, this project employed random assignment to enroll more than 1,450 students in experimental and control groups, including in 26 dialogue courses and control groups on race and gender each. Students admitted to the dialogue courses learned about racial and gender inequalities through readings, role-play activities and personal reflections. The authors tracked students’ progress using a mixed-method approach, including longitudinal surveys, content analyses of student papers, interviews of students, and videotapes of sessions. The results are heartening: Over the course of a term, students who participated in intergroup dialogues developed more insight into how members of other groups perceive the world. They also became more thoughtful about the structural underpinnings of inequality, increased their motivation to bridge differences and intergroup empathy, and placed a greater value on diversity and collaborative action. The authors also note that the effects of such courses were evident on nearly all measures. While students did report an initial increase in negative emotions – a possible indication of the difficulty of openly addressing race and gender – that effect was no longer present a year after the course. Overall, the results are remarkably consistent and point to an optimistic conclusion: intergroup dialogue is more than mere talk. It fosters productive communication about and across differences in the service of greater collaboration for equity and justice. Ambitious and timely, Dialogue Across Difference presents a persuasive practical, theoretical and empirical account of the benefits of intergroup dialogue. The data and research presented in this volume offer a useful model for improving relations among different groups not just in the college setting but in the United States as well.
The State, Society, and Public Health in the United States, France, Great Britain, and Canada
From mad-cow disease and E. coli-tainted spinach in the food supply to anthrax scares and fears of a bird flu pandemic, national health threats are a perennial fact of American life. Yet not all crises receive the level of attention they seem to merit. The marked contrast between the U.S. government’s rapid response to the anthrax outbreak of 2001 and years of federal inaction on the spread of AIDS among gay men and intravenous drug users underscores the influence of politics and public attitudes in shaping the nation’s response to health threats. In Disease Prevention as Social Change, sociologist Constance Nathanson argues that public health is inherently political, and explores the social struggles behind public health interventions by the governments of four industrialized democracies. Nathanson shows how public health policies emerge out of battles over power and ideology, in which social reformers clash with powerful interests, from dairy farmers to tobacco lobbyists to the Catholic Church. Comparing the history of four public health dilemmas—tuberculosis and infant mortality at the turn of the last century, and more recently smoking and AIDS—in the United States, France, Britain, and Canada, Nathanson examines the cultural and institutional factors that shaped reform movements and led each government to respond differently to the same health challenges. She finds that concentrated political power is no guarantee of government intervention in the public health domain. France, an archetypical strong state, has consistently been decades behind other industrialized countries in implementing public health measures, in part because political centralization has afforded little opportunity for the development of grassroots health reform movements. In contrast, less government centralization in America has led to unusually active citizen-based social movements that campaigned effectively to reduce infant mortality and restrict smoking. Public perceptions of health risks are also shaped by politics, not just science. Infant mortality crusades took off in the late nineteenth century not because of any sudden rise in infant mortality rates, but because of elite anxieties about the quantity and quality of working-class populations. Disease Prevention as Social Change also documents how culture and hierarchies of race, class, and gender have affected governmental action—and inaction—against particular diseases. Informed by extensive historical research and contemporary fieldwork, Disease Prevention as Social Change weaves compelling narratives of the political and social movements behind modern public health policies. By comparing the vastly different outcomes of these movements in different historical and cultural contexts, this path-breaking book advances our knowledge of the conditions in which social activists can succeed in battles over public health.
Neighborhood Crime and the Racial-Spatial Divide
More than half a century after the first Jim Crow laws were dismantled, the majority of urban neighborhoods in the United States remain segregated by race. The degree of social and economic advantage or disadvantage that each community experiences—particularly its crime rate—is most often a reflection of which group is in the majority. As Ruth Peterson and Lauren Krivo note in Divergent Social Worlds, “Race, place, and crime are still inextricably linked in the minds of the public.” This book broadens the scope of single-city, black/white studies by using national data to compare local crime patterns in five racially distinct types of neighborhoods. Peterson and Krivo meticulously demonstrate how residential segregation creates and maintains inequality in neighborhood crime rates. Based on the authors’ groundbreaking National Neighborhood Crime Study (NNCS), Divergent Social Worlds provides a more complete picture of the social conditions underlying neighborhood crime patterns than has ever before been drawn. The study includes economic, social, and local investment data for nearly nine thousand neighborhoods in eighty-seven cities, and the findings reveal a pattern across neighborhoods of racialized separation among unequal groups. Residential segregation reproduces existing privilege or disadvantage in neighborhoods—such as adequate or inadequate schools, political representation, and local business—increasing the potential for crime and instability in impoverished non-white areas yet providing few opportunities for residents to improve conditions or leave. And the numbers bear this out. Among urban residents, more than two-thirds of all whites, half of all African Americans, and one-third of Latinos live in segregated local neighborhoods. More than 90 percent of white neighborhoods have low poverty, but this is only true for one quarter of black, Latino, and minority areas. Of the five types of neighborhoods studied, African American communities experience violent crime on average at a rate five times that of their white counterparts, with violence rates for Latino, minority, and integrated neighborhoods falling between the two extremes. Divergent Social Worlds lays to rest the popular misconception that persistently high crime rates in impoverished, non-white neighborhoods are merely the result of individual pathologies or, worse, inherent group criminality. Yet Peterson and Krivo also show that the reality of crime inequality in urban neighborhoods is no less alarming. Separate, the book emphasizes, is inherently unequal. Divergent Social Worlds lays the groundwork for closing the gap—and for next steps among organizers, policymakers, and future researchers.
America Enters a New Century
The United States is more diverse than ever before. Increased immigration has added to a vibrant cultural fabric, and women and minorities have made significant strides in overcoming overt discrimination. At the same time, economic inequality has increased significantly in recent decades, and the Great Recession substantially weakened the economic standing not only of the poor but also of the middle class. Diversity and Disparities, edited by sociologist John Logan, assembles impressive new studies that interpret the social and economic changes in the United States over the last decade. The authors, leading social scientists from many disciplines, analyze changes in the labor market, family structure, immigration, and race. They find that while America has grown more diverse, the opportunities available to disadvantaged groups have become more unequal.
Drawing on detailed data from the decennial census, the American Community Survey, and other sources, the authors chart the growing diversity and the deepening disparities among different groups in the United States Harry J. Holzer and Marek Hlavac document that although the economy always rises and falls over the business cycle, the Great Recession of 2007–2009 was a catastrophic event that saw record levels of unemployment, especially among less-educated workers, young people, and minorities. Emily Rosenbaum shows how the Great Recession amplified disparities in access to home ownership, and demonstrates that young adults, especially African Americans, are falling behind previous cohorts not only in home ownership and wealth but even in starting their own families and households.
Sean F. Reardon and Kendra Bischoff explore the rise of class segregation as higher-income Americans are moving away from others into separate and privileged neighborhoods and communities. Immigration has also seen class polarization, with an increase in both highly skilled workers and undocumented immigrants. As Frank D. Bean and his colleagues show, the lack of a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants inhibits the educational and economic opportunities for their children and grandchildren. Barrett Lee and colleagues demonstrate that the nation and most cities and towns are becoming more diverse by race and ethnicity. However, while black-white segregation is slowly falling, Hispanics and Asians remain as segregated today as they were in 1980.
Diversity and Disparities raises concerns about the extent of socioeconomic immobility in the United States today. This volume provides valuable information for policymakers, journalists, and researchers seeking to understand the current state of the nation.
Social Identity and Intergroup Relations on the College Campus
College campuses provide ideal natural settings for studying diversity: they allow us to see what happens when students of all different backgrounds sit side by side in classrooms, live together in residence halls, and interact in one social space. By opening a window onto the experiences and evolving identities of individuals in these exceptionally diverse environments, we can gain a better understanding of the possibilities and challenges we face as a multicultural nation. The Diversity Challenge—the largest and most comprehensive study to date on college campus diversity—synthesizes over five years’ worth of research by an interdisciplinary team of experts to explore how a highly diverse environment and policies that promote cultural diversity affect social relations, identity formation, and a variety of racial and political attitudes. The result is a fascinating case study of the ways in which individuals grow and groups interact in a world where ethnic and racial difference is the norm. The authors of The Diversity Challenge followed 2,000 UCLA students for five years in order to see how diversity affects identities, attitudes, and group conflicts over time. They found that racial prejudice generally decreased with exposure to the ethnically diverse college environment. Students who were randomly assigned to roommates of a different ethnicity developed more favorable attitudes toward students of different backgrounds, and the same associations held for friendship and dating patterns. By contrast, students who interacted mainly with others of similar backgrounds were more likely to exhibit bias toward others and perceive discrimination against their group. Likewise, the authors found that involvement in ethnically segregated student organizations sharpened perceptions of discrimination and aggravated conflict between groups. The Diversity Challenge also reports compelling new evidence that a strong ethnic identity can coexist with a larger community identity: students from all ethnic groups were equally likely to identify themselves as a part of the broader UCLA community. Overall, the authors note that on many measures, the racial and political attitudes of the students were remarkably consistent throughout the five year study. But the transformations that did take place provide us with a wealth of information on how diversity affects individuals, groups, and the cohesion of a community. Theoretically informed and empirically grounded, The Diversity Challenge is an illuminating and provocative portrait of one of the most diverse college campuses in the nation. The story of multicultural UCLA has significant and far-reaching implications for our nation, as we face similar challenges—and opportunities—on a much larger scale.