The politics of inequality in America: A political economy framework

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Theories of political economy offer rich intellectual resources for scholars today who hope to explain some of the most striking real-world changes of contemporary American politics, including the dramatic widening of economic inequality since the 1970s, the financial and economic breakdowns since 2008, and the government policies that contributed to these developments. Yet few scholars in American politics have been making use of these resources. This article reviews research on the politics of inequality within the United States and situates it more explicitly within an intellectual framework for the study of political economy. The article traces the decline of political economy research within mainstream scholarship on American politics and reviews the upsurge of interest in the politics of inequality. It develops a typology of distinct frameworks for analyzing the American political economy and for bringing greater intellectual organization to a growing but disparate body of research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-364
Number of pages24
JournalAnnual Review of Political Science
StatePublished - Jun 15 2010


  • Capitalism
  • Citizenship
  • Democracy
  • Markets
  • State


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