“The Politics of Inequality in the United States,” a State of Democracy Lecture at the Maxwell School


Martin Gilens, professor of politics at Princeton University, will discuss inequality and political power and its consequences for American democracy during a talk in the Maxwell School Auditorium on Friday, March 20, at 4 p.m.   Gilens’ State of Democracy Lecture will be followed by a panel discussion with Christopher Faricy and Spencer Piston, both assistant professors of political science, and Amy Ellen Schwartz, Moynihan Professor of Public Affairs.  

Gilens’ talk will address his research on representation, public opinion, and mass media, especially in relation to inequality and public policy.  “The ability of citizens to influence government policy is at the heart of democracy. But citizens are quite unequal in their ability to shape government policy to their liking,” Gilens says.  “This vast discrepancy in government responsiveness to citizens with different incomes stands in stark contrast to the ideal of political equality that Americans hold dear. Although perfect political equality is an unrealistic goal, representational biases of this magnitude call into question the very democratic character of our society.”

Gilens’ has written extensively on these topics, including Affluence & Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America (2012, Princeton University Press) and Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media and the Politics of Antipoverty Policy (1999, University of Chicago Press).   He has also written on political inequality, mass media, race, gender, and welfare politics in a number of major journals.  He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California Berkeley, and he taught at Yale University and UCLA before joining the faculty at Princeton.

The State of Democracy Lectures Series is organized and hosted by the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.  It is dedicated to providing a forum for meaningful dialogue over public issues that cut across the disciplinary boundaries of the social sciences and enables the intellectual exploration of current events and issues while fostering discussion and debate, which is the heart of meaningful democratic citizenship. 

The lecture is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception.  Parking is available in the Irving Avenue Garage for $5.00. 03/17/15