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Political Economy from Great Recession to Pandemic


We consider contemporary comparative political economy and macroeconomics of advanced industrial economies through the lens of the past two decades, bookended by the long recession kicked off by speculative bubbles and financial crisis, and the sharp recession and subsequent inflationary growth that followed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the background, massive technological change and widening inequality renewed debate on the appropriate role of government in managing the business cycle and addressing systemic disparities. Emerging from the tumult of the early 21st century, the rich economies of the US and Europe face deep questions about the future of work in an era of automation, globalization in a time of xenophobia, and democracy under the rise of populism. We tackle three key questions through discussion of a mixture of popular and academic readings: What happened during the Great Recession, what political economic changes followed in its wake, and how is the experience and aftermath of the pandemic reshaping these trends?


Political Economy from Great Recession to Pandemic

Offered occasionally at the
University of Washington



Spring 2023

Class meets:
MW 4:30 pm–6:20 pm
Thompson 231

Lectures           Click on lecture titles to view slides or the buttons to download them as PDFs.

Day 1

Course Introduction  

Day 2

Contours of Change  

Student Assignments

Reaction Papers

Due on Pre-arranged Dates

For three pre-arranged class meetings, students will turn in a 2–3 page “reaction paper” addressing that day’s readings. To receive full credit, this paper must be more than a summary of arguments from the readings. A good reaction paper can take several forms: you might choose to critique one or more readings closely, to compare and contrast the arguments and findings of several readings, or to place the readings in a broader context, including earlier readings in the course. Reaction papers are due via Canvas at the beginning of class; late papers will not be accepted.

Final Paper

Due 6 June 2023, 3 pm

Students will write a longer (approximately 10–12 page) paper drawing on the course readings to answer an assigned question. Papers that clearly develop an argument and support that argument with well-sourced and explained evidence will receive the highest marks. Papers that fail to make a clear argument, that provide only weak, poorly explained, or poorly sourced evidence, or that suffer from serious deficits in writing will be marked down accordingly.

University of Washington link

CSSS Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences link

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