Political capital in America

Principal Investigator: Andrew Stark

Department: Management

Grant Names: SSHRC ; Insight Grant ;

Award Years: 2018 to 2022


What is “political capital?” Politicians, journalists and academics use the phrase regularly. Variously described as “something one can invest, risk, hoard, win, use, save, conserve, or squander”, it is evidently thought to play a vital part in the functioning of American democracy. And, when one considers the role that economic capital assumes in the economy, and social capital in society generally, it’s easy to see why it should. I propose to write a book about political capital in America. As with much of my previous writing, it will be a work in normative political theory as applied to public discourse. I will argue that political capital does exist in America, that it is indeed vital to the functioning of American democracy, and that it should be cultivated -- but also that it is not what scholars and politicians generally take it to be. In effect, we have been looking for it in the wrong place.