Symposium on Inequality
In this symposium:
Inequality has become a defining issue of our time, with political commentators of all stripes discussing its causes, effects, and possible solutions. Thomas Piketty’s 2013 work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, set off a chain reaction of books, journal articles, conferences, and debates focusing on questions of inequality. We intend to push this critique further.
SASKIA SASSEN is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University (www.saskiasassen.com). She was interviewed for New Politics by editors Riad Azar and Saulo Colón about her new book, Expulsions: When Complexity Produces Elementary Brutalities (Harvard University Press, 2014).
We are witnessing a grand shift in the nature of capitalist society. It is not to be found simply in the expanding chasms of economic inequality, nor in the rapid social and cultural transformations shaped by globalization. Of course, economic inequality raises concern among liberals, social democrats, and socialists alike. For all see in it an ethical problem, one of unfairness, of greed, of unequal control and power.
Systemic contradictions of capitalism have only intensified in the neoliberal era. Structural unemployment, a phenomenon directly related to capitalist modes of production, has continued unabated, creating a massive and ever-growing “reserve army of labor” that has been disenfranchised on an unprecedented scale.
Americans today face a dual crisis: rising rents and increasingly unaffordable housing markets. The housing crisis, far from being over, has metastasized.
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