Book Affluence and influence : economic inequality and political power in America / Martin Gilens.
Publication year: c2012.
Call Number JK468.P64 G55 2012
Media class: Book
Publisher: Princeton, N.J : Princeton University Press ;New York : Russell Sage Foundation
ISBN: 9780691153971 0691153973 9780691162423 0691162425
Extent: xv, 329 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
"Can a country be a democracy if its government only responds to the preferences of the rich? In an ideal democracy, all citizens should have equal influence on government policy, but as this book demonstrates, America's policymakers respond almost exclusively to the preferences of the economically advantaged. Affluence and Influence definitively explores how political inequality in the United States has evolved over the last several decades and how this growing disparity has been shaped by interest groups, parties, and elections. With sharp analysis and a wide range of data, the author looks at thousands of proposed policy changes, and the degree of support for each among poor, middle-class, and affluent Americans. His findings are staggering: when preferences of low- or middle-income Americans diverge from those of the affluent, there is virtually no relationship between policy outcomes and the desires of less advantaged groups. In contrast, affluent Americans' preferences exhibit a substantial relationship with policy outcomes whether their preferences are shared by lower-income groups or not. The author shows that representational inequality is spread widely across different policy domains and time periods. Yet he also shows that under specific circumstances the preferences of the middle class and, to a lesser extent, the poor, do seem to matter. In particular, impending elections, especially presidential elections, and an even partisan division in Congress mitigate representational inequality and boost responsiveness to the preferences of the broader public. At a time when economic and political inequality in the United States only continues to rise, this book raises important questions about whether American democracy is truly responding to the needs of all its citizens"--Dust jacket.
Citizen competence and democratic decision-making -- Data and methods -- The preference/policy link -- Policy domains and democratic responsiveness -- Interest groups and democratic responsiveness -- Parties, elections, and democratic responsiveness -- Democratic responsiveness across time -- Money and American politics.