POLS 329: Seminar on American Politics: Topic: Neoliberalism

Catalog description: "POLS 329. Seminar on American Politics. 3 hours. Advanced seminar on special topics in American politics. Content varies. Course Information: May be repeated to a maximum of 6 hours. Prerequisite(s): POLS 101 and POLS 200."

The menu on the left side of this page has five links to the main pages for this course. Each page is about one of the five concepts we will be studying:
  • Neoliberalism
  • Globalization
  • Privatization
  • Financialization
  • Inequality
=As we go through the semester you will be using this wiki to collect resources on all of these topics.


POLS 210 Summer 2015 : Introduction to Urban Politics

Welcome to Urban Politics--This is a companion wiki that is a bit easier to access than the Blackboard site, especially if your Blackboard account isn't working. It has pages (such as the ones on inequality) for other courses that I teach. All the addition wiki pages for this course will be marked with the prefix A-210 so you can find them easily. You may find the inequality pages useful or interesting, so go ahead and check them out if you like.

My office is BSB 1126, and I will be there for office hours from noon to 1:00pm on Tuesday and Thursday.
My phone number is 312-413-3782, and my email address is mckenzie@uic.edu

Here is your syllabus:

June 27: There are now three new pages for you to use as you assemble source material for your papers:

Spring, 2015

Update for March 19, 2015: Here's a link you may find useful. It is the World Bank's data page that allows you to compare nations on many different indicators, or variables.
And here is the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's statistics page, which give you more data to make comparisons.

This wiki is for the students in Political Science 359 in Spring of 2015 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The wiki is maintained by your humble instructor, Evan McKenzie, Professor of Political Science.
Prof. Evan McKenzie

You can reach me during my office hours on Tuesday and Thursday from 11:00am to 12:00 noon in BSB 1126-C. You can contact me by email at mckenzie@uic.edu. You can call me at 312-413-3782.

Joining this wiki is mandatory for all students and it must be done by Friday, January 16, the last day of the first week of classes. You must be a member of the wiki in order to edit the pages. I have sent an email from this wiki to everybody who is enrolled in the course. The email tells you what to do in order to join. It is very simple.

The course is titled "Topics in Public Law," and the topic we will focus on this semester is inequality. The overall research question for us is this: what is the relationship between law and inequality?

One of the main premises of a society based on law is that all are supposedly equal before the law. But to what extent is this true? Are people actually treated equally in our courts and by our legal system? And going a step further, to what extent does the law actually promote equality and inequality in different areas of our lives?

The French writer Anatole France characterized the relationship between law and inequality this way: "La majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues et de voler du pain." In English: "In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread."
(Anatole France, Le Lys Rouge [The Red Lily] (1894), ch. 7)
Anatole France (1844-1924)

In order to approach this question, we first need to break down our terms and define them.
  • We will confine ourselves mostly to the United States of America, but there will be an occasional excursion into comparative studies.
  • The term "law" should be understood as "the legal system." The term "system" is a metaphor that portrays something as being similar to a biological organism. A system is a set of component parts that interact with each other to perform certain functions. In the case of the legal system, it performs the function of conflict resolution, and it also works to perpetuate itself and the larger society of which it is a part. It may perform other functions as well, and that is something we will be talking about.
  • The legal system includes the institutions of law, courts, and all the people who produce, interpret, and apply law in our society. This means we are also talking about people with "law jobs," including legislators, judges, lawyers, police, academics, and bureaucrats.
  • Systems exist and operate in environments. The textbook we are using is premised and organized around the principle that the legal system is embedded in society, and that the system and the society affect each other. The legal system affects the society of which it is a part, and the society affects the legal system.
  • Inequality for our purposes has three dimensions, and you will be working in groups that will focus on one of these three dimensions. Remember that in all cases we are talking about group inequality. The dimensions are as follows, with some examples (not exhaustive) of what each dimension might include
    • Economic inequality: how does the legal system contribute to equality and inequality of income, wealth, opportunity, and social class
    • Social inequality: how does the legal system contribute to equality and inequality of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, and disability?
    • Political inequality: are people really equal in our courts and before the law? To what extent does the legal system contribute to equality and inequality of political power, and how?
  • We need to consider as well the ways in which these three dimensions of inequality are related to each other. How does economic inequality contribute to social and political inequality? What is the relationship between political inequality and other forms of inequality?
  • diagram.jpg
    The legal system and inequality