The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy

The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy

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The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy by Kay Lehman Schlozman, Sidney Verba, Henry E. Brady

Politically active individuals and organizations make huge investments of time, energy, and money to influence everything from election outcomes to congressional subcommittee hearings to local school politics, while other groups and individual citizens seem woefully underrepresented in our political system. The Unheavenly Chorus is the most comprehensive and systematic examination of political voice in America ever undertaken--and its findings are sobering.

The Unheavenly Chorus is the first book to look at the political participation of individual citizens alongside the political advocacy of thousands of organized interests--membership associations such as unions, professional associations, trade associations, and citizens groups, as well as organizations like corporations, hospitals, and universities. Drawing on numerous in-depth surveys of members of the public as well as the largest database of interest organizations ever created--representing more than thirty-five thousand organizations over a twenty-five-year period--this book conclusively demonstrates that American democracy is marred by deeply ingrained and persistent class-based political inequality. The well educated and affluent are active in many ways to make their voices heard, while the less advantaged are not. This book reveals how the political voices of organized interests are even less representative than those of individuals, how political advantage is handed down across generations, how recruitment to political activity perpetuates and exaggerates existing biases, how political voice on the Internet replicates these inequalities--and more.

In a true democracy, the preferences and needs of all citizens deserve equal consideration. Yet equal consideration is only possible with equal citizen voice. The Unheavenly Chorus reveals how far we really are from the democratic ideal and how hard it would be to attain it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400841912
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 04/09/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 728
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Kay Lehman Schlozman is the J. Joseph Moakley Endowed Professor of Political Science at Boston College. Sidney Verba is the Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor Emeritus and Research Professor of Government at Harvard University. Henry E. Brady is Dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy and Class of 1941 Monroe Deutsch Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley.

Table of Contents

List of Figures ix
List of Tables xiii
Preface xvii
Acknowledgments xxv
Chapter 1. Introduction: Democracy and Political Voice 1

PART I: Thinking about Inequality and Political Voice
Chapter 2. The (Ambivalent) Tradition of Equality in America 31
Chapter 3. The Context: Growing Economic Inequality and Weakening Unions 69
Chapter 4. Equal Voice and the Dilemmas of Democracy 96

PART II: Inequality of Political Voice and Individual Participation
Chapter 5. Does Unequal Voice Matter? 117
Chapter 6. The Persistence of Unequal Voice 147
Chapter 7. Unequal at the Starting Line: The Intergenerational Persistence of Political Inequality with Nancy Burns 177
Chapter 8. Political Participation over the Life Cycle with Jennifer Erkulwater 199
Chapter 9. Political Activism and Electoral Democracy: Perspectives on Economic Inequality and Political Polarization 232

PART III: Inequality of Political Voice and Organized Interest Activity
Chapter 10. Political Voice through Organized Interests: Introductory Matters 265
Chapter 11. Who Sings in the Heavenly Chorus? Th e Shape of the Organized Interest System with Traci Burch and Philip Edward Jones 312
Chapter 12. The Changing Pressure Community 347
Chapter 13. Beyond Organizational Categories 370
Chapter 14. Political Voice through Organized Interest Activity with Philip Edward Jones and Traci Burch 393

PART IV: Can We Change the Accent of the Unheavenly Chorus?
Chapter 15. Breaking the Pattern through Political Recruitment 447
Chapter 16. Weapon of the Strong? Participatory Inequality and the Internet 483
Chapter 17. What, if Anything, Is to Be Done? with Shauna Shames 534
Chapter 18. Conclusion: Equal Voice and the Promise of American Democracy 574

Appendix A: Equality and the State and U.S. Constitutions 605
Appendix B: The Persistence of Political and Nonpolitical Activity 608
Appendix C: The Intergenerational Transmission of Political Participation 616
Appendix D: Age, Period, and Cohort Effects 619
Appendix E: The Washington Representatives Database 621
Appendix F: Additional Tables 645
Appendix G: Do Online and Offline Political Activists Differ from One Another? 649
Index 655

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