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Reverberations of Inequality - Web Graph

INEQUALITY has emerged as a key political issue.

There are signs moreover that inequality harms health, diminishes political engagement, and ripples across social life throughout the world. During its 2019-2020 theme year, Reverberations of Inequality, the Andrea Mitchell Center will invite a range of speakers to delve into a growing body of scholarship suggesting that inequality is not simply a matter of skewed wealth. Rather, it is something that permeates our lives, its ripple effects shaping our bodies, minds, social networks, identities, life chances, and capacity to participate in shared institutions. And if some degree of equality is indeed a precondition for democratic participation, how might that conflict with the personal liberties that also underlie democracy? What is the correct balance to strike?

Upcoming: ALEXES HARRIS on court-imposed monetary sanctions and the two-tiered legal system they create.


REVERBERATIONS OF INEQUALITY is a year-long program of events organized at the Andrea Mitchell Center by the Reverberations of Inequality Planning Committee: Annette Lareau, Chair (GSE); Regina Austin (Law); Martha Farah (Psychology); Julia Lynch (Political Science); Eric Orts (Wharton); Jeffrey Green, Mitchell Center Director (Political Science); and Matthew Roth, Mitchell Center Assistant Director.

THE ANDREA MITCHELL CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF DEMOCRACY at the University of Pennyslvania aims not just to promote, but to understand, democracy. Global in its outlook, multifaceted in its purposes, the Mitchell Center seeks to contribute to the ongoing quest for democratic values, ideas, and institutions throughout the world. In addition to hosting speakers from the fields of academia, journalism, politics, and public policy, the Mitchell Center supports undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral research.  It continues the legacy of the Penn Program for Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism, which fostered interdisciplinary scholarship from 2007 to 2017.

Alexes Harris

University of Washington Dept. of Sociology

Thu. December 12, 4:30–6:00 pm
133 S. 36th Street, Room 250

Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics

OVER SEVEN MILLION AMERICANS are either incarcerated, on probation, or on parole, with their criminal records often following them for life and affecting access to higher education, jobs, and housing. Court-ordered monetary sanctions that compel criminal defendants to pay fines, fees, surcharges, and restitution further inhibit their ability to reenter society. Sociologist ALEXES HARRIS presents findings from her book, A Pound of Flesh: Monetary Sanctions as  Punishment for the Poor, which draws from extensive sentencing data, legal documents, observations of court hearings, and interviews with defendants, judges, prosecutors, and other court officials. Highlighting variations in how monetary sanctions are imposed, she shows how judges and court clerks hold a considerable degree of discretion in sentencing and rely on individual values—such as personal responsibility, meritocracy, and paternalism—to determine how much and when offenders should pay. Harris finds that fiscal sentences, imposed disproportionately on low-income minorities, help create a permanent economic underclass of those too poor to make make regular payments towards this pernicious debt. Finally, Harris proposes ways to end a two-tiered legal system that imposes additional burdens on already-marginalized groups.

A Pound of Flesh



Bruce McEwen Rockefeller University and 
Craig McEwen Bowdoin College

Inequality and Early Childhood Adver-sity: Toxic Stress and Its Epigenetic Effects


11/21/2019 Reverberations of Inequality Workshop

Inequality and Childhood Adversity: Toxic Stress and Its Epigenetic Effects  
Featuring Bruce McEwen (Rockefeller U.) and
Craig McEwen (Bowdoin College)


Speakers from REVERBERATIONS OF INEQUALITY are now featured in interviews on the Mitchell Center

Podcast. Click here to listen to Brishen Rogers discuss the decline of American Labor and the rise of inequality.