Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Cancelled - Glenn C. Loury -- Mass Incarceration and the Quality of American Democracy

Friday, February 12, 2010

12 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Faculty Club, 1 Magee Street. RSVP to Ellen_White@brown.edu.

More Information

This talk has been cancelled.



"Mass Incarceration and the Quality of American Democracy,"
with Glenn C. Loury
Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences, Department of Economics, Brown University.

Among the preeminent moral challenges for our time is the fact that incarceration on a massive scale has become a central component of social policy in this country. What is more, the demographic profile of prisoners in the U.S. is highly skewed – most being young, male, poorly educated and members of racial minority groups. The emergence of a hypertrophied punishment infrastructure has garnered public support sometimes because of, and at other times despite, its racial disproportionality. And, whether one wants to call it ‘racist’ or not, it is surely arguable that our practice of managing social dysfunction through imprisonment has now become a principal means by which racial hierarchy is reproduced. The core of the problem, this talk will suggest, is that the socially marginal are not seen as belonging to the same general public body as the rest of us. We have inherited a system of racial caste in the center of our great cities, where millions of stigmatized, feared, and invisible people are to be found. And yet, Americans on the whole have concluded, in effect, that those languishing at the margins of our society are simply reaping what they have sown.

Glenn Loury is the Merton P. Stultz Professor of the Social Sciences and a Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Brown. He has taught previously at Boston University, Harvard, Northwestern, and the University of Michigan. He holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Northwestern and a Ph.D. in Economics from MIT. He has made scholarly contributions to the fields of welfare economics, income distribution, game theory, industrial organization, and natural resource economics. He is also a prominent social critic and public intellectual, having published over 200 articles in journals of public affairs in the U.S. and abroad on the issues of racial inequality and social policy. A Fellow of the Econometric Society, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a past Vice President of the American Economics Association, Prof. Loury has been a visiting scholar at numerous universities worldwide and was for many years a contributing editor at The New Republic magazine. His current work focuses on inequalities between individuals and social groups, the social interactions which produce and sustain such disparities, and of the policies designed to mitigate them. Among the issues that he has studied are: racial affirmative action; dysfunctional social identity; status transmission across generations; and cognitive theories of racial stigma.


The Brown Legal Studies Seminar (BLSS) is an interdisciplinary colloquium series, featuring cutting-edge research on law and legal institutions, from a wide range of vantage points across the social sciences and humanities. Sessions are open to the entire Brown community, but we particularly welcome faculty and graduate students, from all fields. BLSS is sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Watson Institute for International Studies. Advance reading may be expected (see www.watsoninstitute.org/blss).


Location: Faculty Club, 1 Magee Street.  RSVP to Ellen_White@brown.edu.