I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. You will all receive invitations to post to the blog. I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:

· To post questions or comments;

· To follow up on class discussions;

· To post relevant news items or videos.

There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges.

The syllabus is at http://www1.cmc.edu/pages/faculty/JPitney/gov106-fall15.html


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Economic-Elite Domination

In case you have a shred of idealism left, you should check out one study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page published in 2014 that illustrates the influence income and wealth have in determining policy outcomes. Their work is based upon Princeton Professor Martin Gilens earlier work titled Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America (2012).

Gilens and Page conducted an empirical study measuring influence of varying groups on 1,779 policy issues over a 20 year period. Testing the extent to which four independent classes of political actors (average citizens, economic elites, mass-based interest groups, and business-oriented interest groups) affect policy, the scholars predicted that the average citizen (median voter) has a "minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy" (575).  Economic elites (those in the top decile of income and wealth in the U.S.), on the other hand, have much greater power. While Gilens and Page may not have pinned down which economic elites wield influence (the ninth percentile versus the first percentile), there is no doubt that those at the top of the economic ladder "generally get their way" (573).

If you feel like you missed out in your high-school government class, or you want a concise refresher to your intro-to-Gov course from college, this study offers a nice overview of four theoretical traditions that attempt to explain U.S. politics in action: Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic-Elite Domination, Majoritarian Pluralism, and Biased Pluralism.

Below is a link to the study published on a Princeton site. Below that are two videos: one by Represent US, which visually breaks down Gilens and Page's conclusion, and another by The Daily Show, which shows an interview with the two authors.

Gilens and Page: Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens

Represent US's Video

Jon Stewart's Daily Show

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