A UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN WORKSHOP &
CHAPTER OF THE REAL UTOPIAS PROJECT
Envisioning Real Utopias seeks to create a space rarely offered in academia. Through symposia and workshops, we bring together academics and graduate students from across disciplines to propose detailed visions of alternative social arrangements geared at increasing human flourishing. Envisioning Real Utopias, a pioneering perspective proposed by the late Erik Olin Wright, calls for more than the description of social reality and the evaluation of public policy. It seeks to develop detailed visions of transformative economic, political, and social arrangements.
What is the Real Utopias Project?
Starting in 1991, the late Erik Olin Wright – renowned sociologist and former president of the American Sociological Association – sought to bring ideas and thinkers together to open a “serious discussion of alternatives to existing structures of power, privilege, and inequality.” From 1991 until his passing in 2019, Professor Wright organized frequent conferences that sought “specific proposals for the fundamental redesign of different arenas of social institutions.” Each conference featured an intensive discussion and debate that would conclude with a collection of essays around a topic; the results of these efforts were published by Verso Books. Here at the University of Michigan, we seek to continue Erik Olin Wright's legacy.
Delayed due to COVID-19.
ENVISIONING WEALTH REDISTRIBUTION
PROPOSALS ON CLASS, RACE, AND THE PRODUCTION OF WEALTH INEQUALITY
LOCATION: The University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
In a first symposium on "Envisioning Wealth Redistribution”, we will bring together scholars from a variety of social science disciplines – social work, sociology, economics – to debate visions capable of transformative change as they relate to wealth inequality, class, and race in America, such as stakeholder grants, wealth and inheritance taxation, and reparations.
In the United States today, nearly 80 percent of the nation’s wealth is owned by a mere 10 percent of households. Three men in this country – Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet – own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of households. This skewed distribution is even more extreme when considering the racial wealth gap: the median black household holds just ten percent of the wealth of the median white household.
These unsettling facts demand serious consideration. Envisioning Real Utopias will soon bring together scholars in an afternoon 3-hour symposium at the Center for Inequality Dynamics at the University of Michigan. Proposals will include:
The direct redistribution of wealth to Americans at birth.
Taxing wealth and inheritance in America.
Programs and policies to close the racial wealth gap.
Consistently rated among the top departments in the United States, the Department of Sociology at the University of Michigan has played a key role in defining the nature of the discipline.
The Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor sponsors this workshop as part of a program that encourages interdisciplinary collaboration among students, faculty, postdocs, and staff.