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The pursuit of wealth is an important feature of American political identity, captured by the ideas of the American dream and the Protestant work ethic. The accumulation of wealth has been lauded as both a worthy individual activity and a vital component of the nation’s public interest. Yet inequality in wealth may conflict with the political equality necessary for democratic governance and public trust, leading to concerns that we are sacrificing community, fairness, and opportunity for the benefit of a small portion of the population. This course focuses on questions about the public value of wealth and its accumulation, which have become more pressing now that the richest one percent of Americans own about 40 percent of privately held wealth. Some readings will be historical, particularly those focusing on American political thought and the politics of the Gilded Age. Most readings will focus on contemporary political debates about the accumulation, concentration, and redistribution of wealth.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
four 5-page papers and a final 10-page paper that is a revision and extension of a short paper
none; not suitable for first-year students
Political Science majors with concentration in American politics and Political Economy majors
Four 5-page papers, peer review, and a revision of extension of one of these papers into a 10-page paper at the end of the semester. Students will receive from the instructor timely comments on their writing skills, with suggestions for improvement.
POEC U.S. Political Economy + Public Policy Course
PSCI American Politics Courses