Putting Inequality in Context : Class, Public Opinion, and Representation in the United States

Title

Putting Inequality in Context : Class, Public Opinion, and Representation in the United States

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Description

Rising income inequality is highlighted as one of the largest challenges facing the United States, affecting civic participation and political representation. Although the wealthy often can and do exert more political influence, this is not always the case. To fix political inequality, it is important to understand exactly how class divisions manifest themselves in political outcomes, and what factors serve to enhance, or depress, inequalities in political voice. Christopher Ellis argues citizens’—and legislators’—views of class politics are driven by lived experience in particular communities. While some experience is formally political, on an informal basis citizens learn a great deal about their position in the broader socioeconomic spectrum and the social norms governing how class intersects with day-to-day life. These factors are important for policymakers, since most legislators do not represent “the public” at large, but specific constituencies. Focusing on U.S. congressional districts as the contextual unit of interest, Ellis argues individuals’ political behavior cannot be separated from their environment, and shows how income’s role in political processes is affected by the contexts in which citizens and legislators interact. Political inequality exists in the aggregate, but it does not exist everywhere. It is, rather, a function of specific arrangements that depress the political influence of the poor. Identifying and understanding these factors is a crucial step in thinking about what reforms might be especially helpful in enhancing equality of political voice. -- publisher site

ISBN

9780472130498

Publication Date

2017

Publisher

University of Michigan Press

City

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Keywords

Income, Inequality, United States, Political, Class, Economics

Disciplines

Economics | Political Science | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

Department

Political Science

Putting Inequality in Context : Class, Public Opinion, and Representation in the United States

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