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Lecture 2, Thursday, September 6 WHAT KIND OF SOCIETY IS THE UNITED STATES?

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Presentation on theme: "Lecture 2, Thursday, September 6 WHAT KIND OF SOCIETY IS THE UNITED STATES?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Lecture 2, Thursday, September 6 WHAT KIND OF SOCIETY IS THE UNITED STATES?

2 3 Steps to answer the question 1.What are the main dimensions in terms of which societies vary? 2.What are the main categories or types on each dimension? 3.Which of these types best describes the United States?

3 1.Technology 2.The economy 3.Economic Inequality 4.Political Institutions 5.Role of the Military 6.Gender relations 7.Social cleavages 8.Immigration 9.Culture 10.Violence Ten Dimensions on which Societies Vary

4 Other Dimensions?

5 Some points to emphasize

6 Technology: how do technologies vary? 1.Productivity 2.Cost Key theme: The US has achieved extraordinary levels of productivity that open up huge new human possibilities, but the use of this productivity to enhance overall wellbeing is undermined by our institutions.

7 The Economy: Basic Definition of “Capitalism” 1)Production is for the market 2)Enterprises are privately owned and run for profits. 3)People who do not own enterprises earn their living by working as employees for privately owned firms.

8 What kind of capitalism? U.S. Capitalism = HYPER-CAPITALISM  powerful corporations  weak unions  relatively weak public regulation of markets  very low taxation  very high levels of economic inequality

9 Economic Inequality Key theme Key theme: The US has the highest levels of economic inequality of all developed economies. Consequences: Around 21% of children are poor in the US Richest 1% of households have 190 times more wealth than the median household Things have gotten much more unequal in the past three decades

10 Political Institutions The U.S. has a democratic form of government, but it is a relatively thin democracy Key theme: As a society we spend more on political competition than any other, and yet this yields only a thin form of democracy. Why ?

11 The Military and Global Power Key Theme: The United States is a relatively militaristic society and has generally adopted a militarily aggressive policy internationally. The U.S. has intervened militarily in more countries since WWII than any other nation.

12 Gender Key theme: We are living in the midst of the most dynamic and rapid transformation of gender relations in human history.

13 Social Cleavage Key theme: Racial inequality and racial cleavage remains a deep and serious reality of American life in spite of the very real progress in the last half century.

14 Culture Culture = shared patterns of beliefs and values Important aspects of U.S. Culture:  Pluralism and tolerance of diversity  Individualism  Community  Religiosity  Commercialism & consumerism  Other aspects?

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