This study of the future of U.S. politics begins with an in-depth examination of the political, social, and economic dynamics of the present. Dr. Shefrin demonstrates that economic growth has been a key element in maintaining political stability by diverting the attention of materially deprived groups away from disruptive political activity. Examining the interaction of technological and political forces in the physical and social environment, he argues that an expectation of economic limits is reasonable—and perhaps undeniable—and focuses on the changes in the political system that can be anticipated in a no-growth or slow-growth society. Dr. Shefrin employs a nondeterministic "social choice" approach to reach the conclusion that, because the shape of the future is of major political significance, it will be the focus of intense political conflict. The four scenarios he presents reflect the major alternative directions possible for U.S. society, according to current social theory. Dr. Shefrin feels that the conflict among supporters of these alternatives will constitute the politics of the future.
Also of Interest -- Preface -- Introduction -- Consensus Politics -- Economic Growth and the Moderation of Class Conflict -- The Limits-to-Growth Debate: The Physical Environment -- The Limits-to-Growth Debate: The Human Environment -- Speculations on the Future of Politics -- Conclusions