Special Issue on “Economic Polarization and Challenges to Subnational Governments“
Long before the onset of the Great Recession, subnational governments both within and outside of the United Sates were continuously being confronted with problematic issues and challenges that seemed to defy any plausible remedy. One of these challenges was how to reasonably and successfully address the increasing economic polarization of the residents of various subnational jurisdictions, along with the possible concomitant loss of the middle class. Polarization has been linked to higher crime rates, issues of increased hunger (especially among school children), racial and ethnic unrest, distrust of authority, increases in political alienation and cynicism, decreases in political efficacy, and the loss of businesses that mostly serve middle class residents. At the same time, subnational governments have had to deal with the loss of substantial amounts of traditional kinds of revenue that are vitally needed to address these problems and resultant issues. The severity and magnitude of these complex and interrelated challenges points to the need for scholarly study. Plausible research questions include the following:
· From a governance perspective, what exactly does the term economic polarization mean? Does this mean that there is both a decline of a “middle class” and a great divide between the lower and upper income classes? What are the different manifestations of this phenomenon such as the degree of loss of the middle class as well as economic polarization? What stage or level of economic polarization can result in policy or governance problems for subnational governments?
· To what extent do taxing and spending policies at subnational levels redistribute burdens and benefits?
· What are the specific ways/policy areas that polarization is evident (i.e., education, housing, stagnant wages, etc.)?
· Has there been a change in the level of middle class loss or economic polarization? If so, when did these changes begin, are they increasing, or is it stable or declining? What are the best techniques to document or monitor these changes?
· What factors contribute to increased economic polarization–actions by international, national, or subnational governments?
· What are the implications of middle class loss and/ or economic polarization for subnational governance-i.e. what problems has this caused for subnational governments?
· What actions have or could subnational governments take to reduce the loss of the middle class and economic polarization as well reduce the impact on their citizens?
· Why hasn’t societal and economic information shown a capacity to scale effectively across jurisdictional, operational, and organizational boundaries? Are we missing major policies and monitoring procedures that would identify this process more effectively, leading to more timely policy action?
Given the timeliness and importance of this subject matter and issue, the decision was made in early 2015 to dedicate the next Special Issue of State and Local Government Review to the topic of “Economic Polarization and Challenges to Subnational Governments.” The call for papers went out in mid-February. By April 1, we had not received a sufficient number of quality proposals from which to choose. Therefore, it was decided to extend the submission deadline until May 1. This resulted in a substantial number of additional proposals being submitted and increased the pool to 22 proposals. In fact, we had more good proposals to choose from than we had space to include them in a 72-page issue. Therefore, we selected what we thought were the five best proposals and invited the author(s) to develop a draft for initial review. We also thought so highly of two other proposals that we invited the authors to develop manuscripts for consideration as general interest articles in SLGR. The subject matter of the five commissioned papers for the special symposium includes the following: the impact of the political economy on inequality-producing policies; progressive responses to income polarization; redistribution as a part of mayoral policy agendas; the geography of urban poverty; and the impact on metropolitan polarization on local government reorganization.
The Special Issue will be published as the last issue of 2015 (Volume 47, Issue Number 4).
Young Scholar Outreach Program
To date, the Young Scholar Outreach Program, that is designed to assist doctoral students seeking job placements and new faculty with a position at the instructor, assistant professor, or beginning associate professor level to get published in academia, is off to an excellent start. Around twenty people have already contacted Dr. Scicchitano seeking guidance since the Program was launched in the Spring of 2014, and three manuscripts originating from the Program have either been published or awaiting publication in SLGR. They are as follows:
- “Political Trust in the American States” by Aaron C. Weinschenk and David J. Helpap (March 2015, Vol. 47, No. 1 Issue)
- “Morality Politics and Municipal LGBT Policy Adoption: A Rare Event Analysis” (March 2015, Vol. 47, No. 1 Issue)
- “Government by Advice: Public Participation and Policymaking through Advisory Ballot Measures” by Todd Ely (June 2015, Vol.47, No. 2 Issue)
Persons having questions or wanting to participate in the program are encouraged to send an email to SLGR Editor Michael Scicchitano at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (352) 846-2874.
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