The Occupy movement peaked, it’s fair to say, in the fall of 2011. Occupy Sandy and Occupy Debt notwithstanding, the political force and overall engagement of the Occupy movement have waned. This is not to say Occupy was a failure.
To the contrary, one reason Occupy might have waned is its success in placing massive inequality atop the political agenda and framing the issue in terms of the now well-known 1% – 99% divide.
However one judges its effect, Occupy was never especially clear about identifying, much less pushing, actual policy reforms. Occupy found its strength in the enduring ideals of democracy – equality of opportunity, social mobility, equal political voice – and yet said little about how an open, decentralized social movement might realize these ideals.
In the fall of 2011, I and three colleagues at Stanford (David Grusky, Doug McAdam, and Debra Satz), organized some of our colleagues to write short opinion pieces about Occupy. We asked them to reflect not on Occupy as a movement or on its potential for success. We asked instead that they write about the gap between American ideals and actual practices, a gap we thought Occupy had called welcome attention to.
These opinion pieces were published in an online forum in the magazine Boston Review, and they reflected the varied backgrounds of the scholars by addressing such diverse issues as the institutional sources of rising inequality, the influence of money in politics, the declining access to education, and the role of art in social change.
Stimulated by responses to these short opinion pieces, we asked the contributors to the online forum to expand what they’d written into short chapters, adding empirical detail and supporting argument. Occupy the Future is the result.
While Occupy’s political potency is weaker today than in late 2011, the issue of extreme inequality remains with us. We hope Occupy the Future contributes to continuing conversation about the causes, significance, and when appropriate, remedies of such inequality.
It’s an all-star list of Stanford scholars. Full Table of Contents below the fold:
Occupy the Future
The Empirical and Normative Foundation
Economic Inequality in the United States: An Occupy-Inspired Primer
David B. Grusky and Erin Cumberworth
Ethics and Inequality
The Sources of the Takeoff
Increasing Income Inequality: Economics and Institutional Ethics
Why is There So Much Poverty?
Who Bears the Brunt of the Takeoff?
Education and Inequality
The Double Binds of Economic and Racial Inequality
Gender and Economic Inequality
Inequality, Politics, and Democracy
Political Remedies to Economic Inequality
State Millionaire Taxes
The Politics of Occupy: Now and Looking Ahead
The Costs of Inequality
Capitalism Versus the Environment
The Rising Toll of Inequality on Health Care and Health Status
Occupy Your Imagination
What if We Occupied Language?