Posted November 8, 2011

Political scientist recognized for prescient political theory

In his 2009 book, Temple Professor Joseph M. Schwartz accurately predicted the emergence of inequality as a major political issue

  • Temple Political Scientist Joseph M. Schwartz

Temple Political Scientist Joseph M. Schwartz has been awarded the prestigious David Easton Book Award 2011 for The Future of Democratic Equality: Reconstructing Social Solidarity in a Fragmented America (Routledge Press, 2009). The award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association for the best book that "broadens the horizons of contemporary political science by engaging issues of philosophical significance in political life through any of a variety of approaches in the social sciences and humanities."

In his book — the writing of which was supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship — Schwartz predicted that inequality would become a major issue in U.S. politics, a theory proved true today. Written years before Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party emerged as political movements, Schwartz’s work examined the failure of our intellectual culture and politics to address the situation.

“Much of the growth of inequality in the U.S. has distinct political, not structural economic causes,” said Schwartz.

Schwartz argues that over the past 30 years most liberal and radical scholars shifted their focus away from interrogating social inequality to criticizing the liberal tradition for being inattentive to the role of difference and identity in social life. This turn in political theory was useful for raising awareness of gender, racial and sexual oppression, said Schwartz, but it led many academics to forget about the role of “solidarity across differences” or a shared sense of common humanity in redressing inequality.

In The Future of Democratic Equality, Schwartz presciently contends that our growing global economic inequality is likely to produce a prolonged economic crisis.