John M. Deutch Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Faculty Associate, CES, Harvard University
March 10, 2017
2:15pm - 4:00pm
Hoffmann Room, Adolphus Busch Hall
** Please note: Those planning to attend events in this series should read the paper posted below.**
The election of Donald Trump has given rise to an important debate about the fundamental sources of his electoral strength and populist trends in the West more generally. The debate has been unhelpfully divided, however, between those that argue for the role of economics, on the one hand, or for cultural factors, such as racism or xenophobia, on the other. In this paper, I propose that political scientists need to develop an understanding of the interaction between material circumstances and cultural identity, rather than seeing them as separate. To do so, I propose a focus on the cultural construction of class, specifically, the geography of inequality in a changing 21st century economy, that has created unprecedented political polarization in the US. Drawing on the practice turn, I suggest ways in which we might better account for the role of economic change in promoting political change, rather than relying on traditional political economy scholarship.