Northwestern Events Calendar


American Politics Workshop: Laura Bucci

When: Friday, May 21, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM CT

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Erica Canavan   (847) 491-7451

Group: Department of Political Science

Category: Academic, Lectures & Meetings, Global & Civic Engagement


Title: "Redistribution by Other Means" in Unequal Voice: Deunionization in the American States


Throughout the larger book manuscript, I argue that uneven declines in labor union membership across the American states contribute to higher levels of inequality and lower democratic health. In this chapter, I look to conceptualize redistribution in the states with a particular emphasis on the role of labor power. I classify states along two dimensions: the liberalism of public policy and the power of organized labor. Either avenue, through policy or through labor power, moves residents toward resources that could improve their lives. Many states with stronger unions are more liberal, and those with weak labor organizations are more conservative, but states that are mixed provide useful theoretical leverage. Here I examine states with more market-oriented welfare programs and a history of stronger unions (OH, IN, NV, WV) or more state-granted policy but low levels of labor power (MD, NM). I examine the presence of workers' compensation, minimum wage, and regressive taxation in these states. As state governments have grown more austere, and benefits once available in the labor market also decline, individuals are no longer able to receive benefits along previous pathways. In conservative states that once had strong unions, individuals are left to draw resources from a state with limited political will and capacity to provide those benefits. Together, the structure of redistribution in the states shapes how individuals think about government capacity, access to democratic institutions, and one’s place in society.

Laura Bucci is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Saint Joseph's University. Her research focuses on the consequences of declining unionization for political inequality in the American states.  

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