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.
"Kay Lehman Schlozman, Sidney Verba, and Henry E. Brady are the nation's leading analysts of participatory inequality, and The Unheavenly Chorus is their magnum opus--a wide-ranging, heavily statistical analysis of how Americans try to make themselves heard as individuals and through organizations of different kinds."--Paul Starr, New Republic
"Superb."--John Diiulio, America
"In The Unheavenly Chorus, [the authors] present a timely and wide-ranging analysis that catalogs and describes the nature and magnitude of political inequality in the United States. . . . These esteemed authors, who have devoted their careers to the study of political participation, have assembled in 718 pages the most complete compendium of political inequality we have--its definition, sources, magnitude, and consequences--together with a consideration of changes in participatory processes that might alleviate inequalities in political voice. In the end, it is a troubling story about the state of American democracy."--Andrea Louise Campbell, Harvard Magazine
"The Unheavenly Chorus is the definitive study of participatory inequality in America. Marshaling prodigious evidence, the authors show how money not only buys influence directly but also affects associations that are supposed to be democratic antidotes to concentrated wealth. A monumental achievement of careful scholarship, this book offers real knowledge of how politics actually operates."--Robert Kuttner, coeditor, The American Prospect
"In The Unheavenly Chorus, the authors take direct aim at how economic inequality contributes to inequality in citizen involvement in politics. Over the course of 600 pages, they assiduously document that politics in America is a sport played mostly by members of the upper and upper-middle classes."--Nolan McCarty, American Interest
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Sidney Verba: