Introducing the Wicked Problems Collaborative
Book 1: What do we do about inequality?
Inequality is a lever that pries civil society apart. Today’s conversations around rampant and growing economic disparity paradoxically tend to polarize and homogenize thought on the subject. This book, the first in a series on the so-called “wicked problems,” aims to improve public discourse by promoting new, divergent lines of thinking. (Wicked problems are those which are incredibly difficult to solve due to scale, complexity, changing requirements, competing interests, and incomplete information, and tend to be either economic, political, or environmental concerns.) The goal of this project is to engender fresh interdisciplinary conversations around inequality in an effort to encourage outcomes that are more just than those currently endured.
This book will consist of a series of crisp, pointed essays that offer disparate yet harmonious voices. Leveraging our collective intelligence is a vital first step to solving the problem: all of us together know far more than any one of us possibly could.
What began with a simple question—“What do we do about inequality?”—has evolved into a colorful collaborative effort between over thirty dynamic thinkers whose work I admire and whose ideas have deepened my own in meaningful and productive ways. Drawing from diverse areas of expertise, their contributions will bring a wide variety of perspectives to the effort that will challenge the reader as much with philosophical and technical discussions as with gripping, human stories. The themes covered are expected to span education, racism, sexism, income and wealth disparities, health care, climate change/environmental justice, and more.
Our book is being published by The Journal Review Foundation, a not-for-profit publisher of academic journals, journal reviews, and other scholarly resources, and has been written to be accessible to a general audience yet still stimulating for an academic reader.
Our book will be divided into two sections (although many may not fit neatly into a single category):
- Re-framing Paradigms: The first section will feature pieces that ask the reader to step back and review received paradigms and challenge their validity, while offering new ways of perceiving them.
- Defining Problems & Laying New Foundations: The pieces in this section will provide a well-rounded understanding of the burdens inequality places on individuals and society at large, while also discussing the win-win possibilities offered through its reduction. The section will close with essays focused on proposing specific opportunities for fostering a more just society.
Where Things Stand
Most of our essays have either already been edited, or are in the editing process. The current list of collaborators, along with their essay titles, is featured below, and a few more are in the works.
Author Twitter bios are linked here. I've learned an incredible amount by following this group, and would highly recommend doing the same.
- Adam Kotsko - The First Job Creator
- Adnan Al-Daini - The State of Affairs: Heading from Bad to Worse
- Akhila Vijayaragavan - Poverty & Gender Inequality: A View from India
- Alex Cobham - Inequality, uncounted
- Alnoor Ladha - The Age of Inequality: Causes, Discontents, and a Radical Way Forward (co-authored w/Jason Hickel)
- Chris MacDonald - Is Capitalism Unfair?
- Chris Oestereich - The Gig Economy Seeks Disposable Humans
- Daniel Altman - The Inefficiency of Inequality
- David Atkins - 20th Century Solutions Won’t Work for 21st Century Inequality
- Deb Mills-Scofield - What You Know is Based on Whom You Know
- Devin Stewart - The Participation Gap
- Dylan Matthews - The Moral Obligation of the Global Haves
- Filip Spagnoli - Income Inequality What’s Wrong With It, and What's Not
- Frank Pasquale - Billionaires with Drones: The Officialization of the Criminal and the Criminalization of the Official
- Gawain Kripke - To tackle extreme poverty, we must take on extreme inequality (co-authored with Nick Galasso)
- Harold Jarche - Turmoil and Transition
- Jason Hickel - The Age of Inequality: Causes, Discontents, and a Radical Way Forward (co-authored w/Alnoor Ladha)
- Jennifer Reft - The Stickiness of Injustice
- John C. Havens - The Voices That Are Not Your Own
- Jon Husband - Knowledge, Power, and a Potential Shift in Systemic Inequality
- Kevin Carson - The Problem of Inequality
- KoAnn Skrzyniarz - Getting the Frame Right
- Megan Hollingsworth - The Inequality of Wildness and Necessity of Wildness for Equality
- Melonie Fullick - Poor Choices
- Michel Bauwens - Can Equipotentiality Foster Equality?
- Miles Kimball - Inequality is About the Poor
- Nick Archer - Towards Renouncing Personal Privatization
- Nick Galasso - To tackle extreme poverty, we must take on extreme inequality (co-authored with Gawain Kripke)
- Patrick Iber - What Should the World Learn from the Experience of Inequality in Latin America?
- Paul Fidalgo - Noble Fictions and Sacred Texts
- Peter Barnes - The Tragedy of Our Middle Class
- Robin Cangie - The Empathy Deficit
- Rosalinda Sanquiche - Addressing Wealth Inequality with Investing Solutions from Nature
- Sam Knight - Occupy Sandy and the Future of Socialism
- Scott Santens - Inequality and the Basic Income Guarantee
- Sean Mcelwee - The Ideological Straitjacket
- Tom Streithorst - Post-Scarcity Economics
- Tressie McMillan Cottom - The Logic of Stupid Poor People: Status, Poverty, and Gatekeeping
Risks and challenges
This is a bit of an odd project for a Kickstarter, because unless something bad happens to me, the book will be published. (And even then, the pieces are all there, so our publisher would be able to complete it.) However, this project still faces several challenges and risks.
Our primary challenge is to get these ideas into as many hands as possible. We don't have much of a marketing budget (which is to say we don't have a marketing budget at all). Our collaborators have taken a chance in participating in this project, and they ought to be rewarded with readers. The Kickstarter project gives us the opportunity to get a running start at finding readers who would be interested in the topic. That could then help us create a bit of buzz around the book, so that there might be more attention directed towards it as we move towards the book's release date.
If we do not manage to succeed at this, the project could end as a one-off, rather than the series it is intended to be. I do believe that helping people think through the problems of inequality is a wholly worthy goal in itself, but I'd hate to see the possibility of doing the same on a number of important topics (climate change, war, disease, etc.) be extinguished.
Reaching a wide audience is essential to giving the people who have contributed to this volume reason to come back for future efforts and bringing new collaborators into the fold. I will be working to do everything I can to ensure that we make that happen, but there' is a limit to what I can do by way of pluck and sheer force of will. Buying a copy of our book, or making a small donation to help us recover upfront costs, would help boost us along the path to success. Telling your friends might help even more. Reading the book and sharing your thoughts in a review would be wonderfully helpful. So please do help us out however you can. We'll all appreciate it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)