The Economic Other: Inequality in the American Political Imagination
(with Amber Wichowsky, Marquette University, Forthcoming Spring 2020, The University of Chicago Press)
Economic inequality in the US is at a record high, but public demand for redistribution is not rising with it. Meghan Condon and Amber Wichowsky show that this paradox and other mysteries about class and US politics can be solved through a focus on social comparison. Powerful currents compete to propel attention up or down—toward the rich or the poor—pulling politics along in the wake.
Through an astute blend of experiments, surveys, and descriptions people offer in their own words, The Economic Other reveals that when less-advantaged Americans compare with the rich, they become more accurate about their own status and want more from government. But American society is structured to prevent upward comparison. In an increasingly divided, anxious nation, opportunities to interact with the country’s richest are shrinking, and people prefer to compare to those below to feel secure. Even when comparison with the rich does occur, many lose confidence in their power to effect change.
Laying bare how social comparisons drive political attitudes, The Economic Other is an essential look at the stubborn plight of inequality and the measures needed to solve it.
Related Articles and Working Papers
Condon, Meghan and Amber Wichowsky. Forthcoming. “Inequality in the Social Mind: Perceptions of Status and Support for Redistribution.” The Journal of Politics.
Condon, Meghan and Amber Wichowsky. 2015. “Same Blueprint, Different Bricks: Reexamining the Gender Gap in Ideology with an Item Response Model,” Politics, Groups, and Identities 3(1): 4-20.
Wichowsky, Amber and Meghan Condon. “The Emergent Gender Gap in Economic Evaluations in the Age of Trump” (Under Review).
Condon, Meghan and Amber Wichowsky. “Anxious MTurkers: High Levels of Economic Anxiety Among Contingent Survey Workers” (Under Review)
Condon, Meghan and Amber Wichowsky. “Twentieth Century Drum Majors: Economic Anxiety and Racialized Class Politics.” (Working paper)
Condon, Meghan and Amber Wichowsky. “Our Status, Our (Political) Selves: How Gender and Inequality Structure Political Efficacy.” (Working paper).
Childhood Inequality and Public Policy
Condon, Meghan and Amber Wichowsky. 2018. “Developing Citizen-Scientists: Effects of an Inquiry-based Science Curriculum on STEM and Civic Engagement.” The Elementary School Journal.
Barrios, Elisabet and Meghan Condon. 2017. “The Immigrant Policy Context in Illinois: An Overview, Policy Analysis Framework, and Implications for Illinois Children.” Illinois Municipal Policy Journal 2(1): 85-101. Presented in expert testimony before the Chicago City Council, 2017.
Condon, Meghan, Alexandra Filindra, and Amber Wichowsky. 2016. “Immigrant Inclusion in the Safety Net: A Framework for Analysis and Effects on Educational Attainment.” Policy Studies Journal 44(4): 424-448.
Condon, Meghan, Lesley Lavery, and Par Jason Engle. 2016. "Measuring Social Capital: Accounting for Nested Data and Subnetworks within Schools.” Social Indicators Research 126(3): 1189-1207.
Condon, Meghan. 2015. “Voice Lessons: Rethinking the Relationship between Education and Political Participation.” Political Behavior 37(4): 819-843.
Condon, Meghan and Matthew Holleque. 2013. “Entering Politics: General Self-Efficacy and Voting Behavior Among Young People,” Political Psychology 34(2): 167-181.
John F. Witte, Patrick J. Wolf, Joshua M. Cowen, David J. Fleming, Meghan Condon, and Juanita Lucas-McLean. 2010. “Milwaukee Parental Choice Program Longitudinal Educational Growth Study Third Year Report.” University of Arkansas Educational Working Paper Archive. University of Arkansas, Department of Education Reform.
Condon, Meghan. “The Democracy Gap: How Education Policy Structures Opportunities to Develop Politically Important Verbal Skills.” (Working paper)
Condon, Meghan and Amber Wichowsky. “The Political Implications of Childhood Inequality.” (Working paper)
Social Pressure and Voter Turnout
Condon, Meghan, Christopher W. Larimer, and Costas Panagopoulos. 2016. “Partisan Social Pressure and Voter Mobilization.” American Politics Research 44(6): 982-1007.
Panagopoulos, Costas, Chris Larimer, and Meghan Condon. 2014. “Social Pressure, Descriptive Norms, and Voter Mobilization.” Political Behavior 36(2): 451-469.