Margaret Somers, Sandra Levitsky and Barbara Anderson each have new books which have just been released.
Somers' book, The Power of Market Fundamentalism: Karl Polanyi's Critique (co-authored with Fred Block), extends the work of the great political economist Karl Polanyi to explain why these ideas have revived from disrepute in the wake of the Great Depression and World War II, to become the dominant economic ideology of our time. Polanyi contends that the free market championed by market liberals never actually existed. While markets are essential to enable individual choice, they cannot be self-regulating because they require ongoing state action. Furthermore, they cannot by themselves provide such necessities of social existence as education, health care, social and personal security, and the right to earn a livelihood. When these public goods are subjected to market principles, social life is threatened and major crises ensue. Despite these theoretical flaws, market principles are powerfully seductive because they promise to diminish the role of politics in civic and social life. Because politics entails coercion and unsatisfying compromises among groups with deep conflicts, the wish to narrow its scope is understandable. But like Marx’s theory that communism will lead to a “withering away of the State,” the ideology that free markets can replace government is just as utopian and dangerous."
Levitsky's book, Caring For Our Own: Why There Is No Political Demand for New American Social Welfare Rights, inverts an enduring question of social welfare politics. Rather than asking why the American state hasn't responded to unmet social welfare needs by expanding social entitlements, this book asks: Why don't American families view unmet social welfare needs as the basis for demands for new state entitlements? How do traditional beliefs in family responsibility for social welfare persist even in the face of well-documented unmet need? The answer, this book argues, lies in a better understanding of how individuals imagine solutions to the social welfare problems they confront and what prevents new understandings of social welfare provision from developing into political demand for alternative social arrangements. Caring for Our Own considers the powerful ways in which existing social policies shape the political imagination, reinforcing longstanding values about family responsibility, subverting grievances grounded in notions of social responsibility, and in some rare cases, constructing new models of social provision that would transcend existing ideological divisions in American social politics.
Anderson's book, World Population Dynamics, is a demography textbook which takes an historical and comparative approach that places demographic conditions and changes in context and illuminates their importance in the past, and present and in years to come. With sociological, economic, health, and political perspectives integrated throughout, readers will gain an understanding of the patterns and causes of population change historically and in the contemporary world.
Congratulations Margaret, Sandy and Barbara!