Citizens of the United States have many ways to make their voices heard in politics. They can express political voice directly by communicating with public officials about their preferences and needs for government action and indirectly by influencing the choice of public officials. They can act on their own or with others. They can spend time or money. But political voice is not universal, and political activists -- and, hence, the messages they send -- are not representative of the broader public.
This workshop embeds a consideration of the skewing of political voice in the context of growing economic inequality in the United States. We shall ask such questions as: Why are the well-educated and affluent so much more active than their less advantaged counterparts? What do such SES-based inequalities of political voice imply for inequalities of political voice among groups defined by such politically relevant characteristics as gender, race or ethnicity, or need for governmental assistance? What have been the consequences for unequal political voice of changing digital technologies? To what extent do the operations of markets explain growing economic inequality in the United States? Does public policy play a role as well? What are the implications of a variety of recent procedural changes in politics for unequal political voice in the United States?
As students prepare for and participate in the workshop, they are encouraged to ask comparative questions: What can the United States learn from Canada about the origins, dimensions, and consequences of inequalities of political voice? Does the United States have anything to teach Canada about these matters?