In 2001, the American Political Science Association (APSA) initiated a Task Force on Inequality and American Democracy, chaired by Lawrence Jacobs and then-APSA President Theda Skocpol. In 2004, the Task force issued a report, a set of critical analyses, teaching materials, and their findings were published in a book, Inequality and American Democracy: What We Know and What We Need to Learn.
In PS's January 2006 symposium, the authors of the Task Force report respond to a collection of critiques and comments on their work. Some criticism is mild, focusing on what could be added to the report to make it a fuller analysis. Other criticism takes exception to the report's observations, conclusions, and perceived ideological message. Andrea Brandolini and Timothy Smeeding set the stage for the interchange by examining patterns of inequality in Western democracies. Lawrence Jacobs and Theda Skocpol then discuss the creation, scope of work, and achievements of the Task Force on Inequality and American Democracy. The essays that follow alternate between a commentator's response to the report (Robert Weissberg, Frances Fox Piven, and Stephen Bennett) and a reply from a Task Force member (Larry Bartels, Jacob Hacker, and Kay Schlozman). The discussion concludes with Steve Macedo and Christopher Karpowitz's argument in favor of expanding the scope of investigations into economic and political inequality.
"Patterns of Economic Inequality in Western Democracies: Some Facts on Levels and Trends"
Andrea Brandolini and Timothy M. Smeeding
"Restoring the Tradition of Rigor and Relevance to Political Science"
Lawrence R. Jacobs and Theda Skocpol
"Politicized Psuedo Science"
"Response to 'American Democracy in an Age of Inequality'"
Frances Fox Piven
"Comment on 'American Democracy in an Age of Inequality'"
Stephen Earl Bennett
"On Inequality and Political Voice: Response to Stephen Earl Bennett's Critique"
Kay Lehman Scholzman
"The Local Roots of American Inequality"
Stephen Macedo and Christopher F. Karpowitz