Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America

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Princeton University Press, 2012 - Political Science - 329 pages
3 Reviews

""Inequality in America" is steadily worsening, and nowhere is that more worrying than in our politics. This deservedly prize-winning book offers compelling new evidence that affluent Americans have much more influence than their fellow citizens and that this disparity is growing."--Robert Putnam, Harvard University

"Our democracy isn't: That's the inescapable conclusion of this incredibly powerful and beautifully written book. Too important for academics alone, this is required reading for any citizen, or anyone anywhere trying to understand how history's most important democracy has lost its way."--Lawrence Lessig, Harvard University

"Democracy is based on the ideal that every citizen has an equal potential to shape what government does. With care and without cant, Gilens shows that we are very far from this ideal in contemporary American politics. The economically privileged don't always get what they want. But, according to Gilen's pioneering analysis, they are much more influential than those below them on the economic ladder. "Affluence and Influence" is a landmark in the study of representation."--Jacob Hacker, coauthor of "Winner-Take-All Politics"

"When the U.S. government makes policies on critical issues, it responds to the preferences of the affluent, but often ignores the poor and middle class. Using public opinion and policy data in innovative ways, this eye-opening book explores the reasons for unequal government responsiveness to citizen preferences. For anyone who cares about inequality and democracy in America, this book goes at the top of the reading list. A home run."--Theda Skocpol, Harvard University

""Affluence and Influence" is social science at its best, melding sophisticated scholarship with moral purpose. The book shows how better-off Americans sway elections and get the laws they want. If other citizens feel unrepresented, Gilens's analysis could be a first step toward redress."--Andrew Hacker, Queens College

"This is an important book, destined to be a classic. It is the definitive statement to date on a big topic: how general public opinion, the opinions of affluent citizens, and the views of organized interest groups affect the making of U.S. public policy. Containing scrupulous analysis and well-supported claims, "Affluence and Influence" will have great scholarly impact and reach broad audiences concerned with American politics, public policy, and democratic theory."--Benjamin I. Page, Northwestern University

"This book addresses fundamental questions about equality and democratic responsiveness in the United States, and concludes that government policies are more responsive to affluent citizens than to others less well off. Part of the novelty and richness of the book comes from its description of specific policy issues and cases, which provides a detailed and important picture of real-world American politics."--Robert Y. Shapiro, Columbia University


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Review: Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America

User Review  - Billie Pritchett - Goodreads

Martin Gilens's book Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America is a very important book that is not very fun to read. It is sort of an extended version of a paper ... Read full review

Review: Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America

User Review  - Flora Horvath - Goodreads

The link between political inequality and income level in the US is a no-brainer: outsize power tends to accrue where economic elites move serious money. In his study Gilens does a fine job of ... Read full review


CHAPTER 1 Citizen Competence and Democratic Decision Making
CHAPTER 2 Data and Methods
CHAPTER 3 The PreferencePolicy Link
CHAPTER 4 Policy Domains and Democratic Responsiveness
CHAPTER 5 Interest Groups and Democratic Responsiveness
CHAPTER 6 Parties Elections and Democratic Responsiveness
CHAPTER 7 Democratic Responsiveness across Time
CHAPTER 8 Money and American Politics

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About the author (2012)

Martin Gilens is professor of politics at Princeton University. He is the author of Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media, and the Politics of Antipoverty Policy.

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