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Book Talk: American Insecurity: Why our Economic Fears Lead to Political Inaction

Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 4:30pm

Olin Library, 107
Olin Library, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA

Why do our fears about the economy lead to political inaction?

Many Americans feel their financial well-being is under threat by factors such as job and retirement insecurity, health care costs, and spiraling college tuition. Yet few of us are motivated to become more politically engaged on these issues. Our inaction carries serious consequences for the shape of public policy.

Join us for a Chats in the Stacks book talk with Cornell political scientist Adam Seth Levine. His new book American Insecurity (Princeton University Press, 2015), provides a new perspective on political behaviors that shape our financial well-being. The key is that the very arguments intended to get people involved—asking them to donate money or time—remind them of their economic fears and constraints, leading to nonparticipation.  When money is needed, those personally affected do not become politically active. When time is needed, participation is limited to those not personally affected or those who are affected but outside of the labor force with time to spare. Levine’s key discovery is that rhetoric about economic insecurity issues is actually self-undermining.

Adam Levine is assistant professor in the Department of Government at Cornell. He has published in the Journal of Politics, Political Analysis, Review of Behavioral Economics, and Political Communication. His work has won numerous awards, including the 2011 E. E. Schattschneider Prize.

This event is hosted by Olin Library. Buffalo Street Books will offer books for purchase and signing, and light refreshments served.

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Event Type

Author Appearance


Cornell University Library, Government, Olin Library


economics, Cornell University Library, CUL, book talk, government, Levine, cascal, sociology, Politics


Contact E-Mail

Contact Phone

607 255 3393


Adam Seth Levine

Speaker Affiliation

Department of Government at Cornell

Open To

Free and open to all

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