Just Work for All: The American Dream in the 21st Century

New York, NY, USA: Routledge (2020)
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Abstract

This is a book about the American Dream: how to understand this central principle of American public philosophy, the ways in which it is threatened by a number of winner-take-all economic trends, and how to make it a reality for workers and their families in the 21st century. Integrating political philosophy and the history of political thought with recent work in economics, political science, and sociology, this book calls for renewed political and policy commitment to “just work.” Such a commitment is essential to combat the negative moral externalities of an economy where the fruits of growth are increasingly claimed by a relatively small portion of the population: slower growth, rising inequality, declining absolute mobility, dying communities, the erosion of social solidarity, lack of faith in political leaders and institutions, exploding debt, ethnic and nationalist backlash, widespread hopelessness, and the rapid rise in what economists Angus Deaton and Anne Case call deaths of despair. Covid-19 threatens to pour gasoline on these winner-take-all fires, further concentrating economic and political power in the hands of those best suited to withstand (and even profit from) the pandemic-driven economic crisis. In this book, the author provides a model for understanding the American Dream and making it a reality in a post-Covid-19 economy. A tour de force, this book is essential reading for scholars and researchers of political philosophy, political economy, political theory, and economics, as well as for the layperson trying to make sense of the post-pandemic world.

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Joshua Preiss
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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