I organized a general theme “Political Inequality in Cross-National Perspective” for RC 18: Political Sociology at the World Congress of the International Sociological Association 2010 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
RC18.01 – Consequences of Political Inequality
Monday 12 July, 15:30 – 17:30
Location: Campus Haga Sappören
5 papers scheduled
RC18.04 – Mesaurement and Causality
Tuesday 13 July, 10:45 – 12:45
Location: Campus Haga Sappören
5 papers scheduled
There are 5 papers scheduled for each two hour session. My goal is to (a) give everyone adequate time to present and (b) allow time for feedback from the audience. Please prepare an 18 minute presentation. I plan to comment generally on the papers for about 5 minutes, and open the floor for general discussion, which would leave about 25 minutes for audience feedback. The time allotted for each presenter is subject to change based on presenter attendance: if a scheduled presenter does not show up to present their paper, every one gets more minutes to present.
To foster greater interaction and improve discussion during the sessions, it would be useful if others have the opportunity to read papers of presenters before the session starts. Currently, ISA only posts abstracts. The following authors have submitted their papers and have given permission to post these papers here.
DESCRIPTION OF THE SESSION
In preparation for the conference, I wrote a brief statement on the field of political inequality or, rather what I, as session organizer, conceieve the field to be. This statement is posted here in the political inequality website.
Political inequality is the extent to which groups within society differ in influence over government decisions. Decades of research have clearly shown how position within the social structure impacts individual- and group-level political influence, such that political inequality interacts with a host of other inequalities, including those of gender, ethnicity, and class. Because political processes govern resource distribution, political inequality has profound consequences for the welfare of all people within society.
This general theme focuses on political inequality as a distinctive form of inequality and aims to examine methodological and substantive issues pertaining to it. While there are many clear definitions and well-established measures of other major types of inequality — e.g. economic and educational inequalities — that enable researchers to address basic empirical questions of, “how unequal is society?” and “what are the causes and consequences of this inequality?” there are few attempts to directly measure political inequality. As a result, crucial questions remain unaddressed.
Continuing the discussions initiated in the International Journal of Sociology special issue on “Causes and Consequences of Political Inequality in Cross-National Perspective” (2008), and inspired by the American Political Science Association’s “Task Force on Inequality and American Democracy,” this general theme seeks methodological, quantitative, and qualitative empirical papers that bridge sociology and political science to address crucial questions regarding political inequality in cross-national perspective.
There are two main sessions planned for this theme.
Session 1: Consequences of Political Inequality
Papers in this session should address the question: What are the consequences of political inequality on peoples, societies and social structures? If political inequality is a distinctive form of inequality in its own right, consequences of its existence and durability must be demonstrated. Papers in this session should empirically examine how political inequality matters in the lives of disadvantaged groups, for the long-term health of democratic governance, for particular political policies and legislation, or for the establishment and durability of civil society and social movements.
Session 4: Measurement and Causality
Papers in this session should address one or more of the following questions: (a) How do we define and measure political inequality? (b) How politically unequal are modern democracies? and (c) What causes political inequality? From Pitirim Sorokin to Robert Dahl to Amartya Sen, among others, there is a strong theoretical base on which to support the contention that political inequality is a distinctive form of inequality as important as that of economic inequality. Yet, there is very little empirical work on how to operationalize its concepts, measure its extent, and identify its roots. Papers with a cross-national perspective should empirically examine forms of political inequality – such as underrepresentation of disadvantaged groups in government and unequal political participation, to name a couple – including how these forms endure over time and across societies, how they combine, or how they interact with other major forms of social inequality.