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Poor Representation
Congress and the Politics of Poverty in the United States

AUD$45.95 inc GST

  • Publication planned for: January 2019
  • availability: Not yet published - available from January 2019
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108461818

AUD$ 45.95 inc GST

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About the Authors
  • Tens of millions of Americans live in poverty, but this book reveals that they receive very little representation in Congress. While a burgeoning literature examines the links between political and economic inequality, this book is the first to comprehensively examine the poor as a distinct constituency. Drawing on three decades of data on political speeches, party platforms, and congressional behavior, Miler first shows that, contrary to what many believe, the poor are highly visible to legislators. Yet, the poor are grossly underrepresented when it comes to legislative activity, both by Congress as a whole and by individual legislators, even those who represent high-poverty districts. To take up their issues in Congress, the poor must rely on a few surrogate champions who have little district connection to poverty but view themselves as broader advocates and often see poverty from a racial or gender-based perspective.

    • Provides the first systematic and comprehensive study of whether and how the poor are represented by the US Congress
    • Draws on quantitative and qualitative evidence to track congressional activity on poverty-related issues and the changing dynamics of poverty across time and congressional districts since the 1980s
    • Examines three distinct approaches to representation: collective, dyadic, and surrogate
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    Reviews & endorsements

    Advance praise: 'Kristina C. Miler's thorough exploration of the extent to which Congress represents the poor is a must-read for both Congressional and public policy scholars. Miler imaginatively uses data from the Policy Agendas Project to construct new measures of congressional commitment to programs benefiting the poor. She shows that even when congressmen face strong incentives to develop and enact such policies, they seldom do. This is a major milestone in our developing understanding of policy-based representation in democratic legislatures.' Bryan D. Jones, J. J. 'Jake' Pickle Regents Chair in Congressional Studies and Director, Policy Agendas Project, University of Texas, Austin

    Advance praise: ''The poor you will always have with you', says the Bible. A wag might add, 'But they won't be noticed on Capitol Hill'. That at least is the undeniable message of Kristina C. Miler's deeply researched Poor Representation. Miler meticulously unpacks how the poor get represented - or, more often, not represented - by our nation's elected representatives. In the process, she adds to our understanding of unequal influence in American democracy while forging a promising new research agenda for legislative studies.' Jacob S. Hacker, Stanley B. Resor Professor and Director, Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University and co-author of Winner-Take-All Politics

    Advance praise: 'In this interesting and important book, Miler provides a comprehensive examination of the representation of the poor in Congress. She demonstrates that Congress, and the individual representatives that comprise it, are largely unresponsive to real-world indicators of levels of poverty and changes therein. By triangulating on the issue in a variety of ways, Miler offers an impressive and convincing account of the ways in which the poor are underrepresented in American politics.' Tracy Sulkin, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

    Advance praise: 'This timely and comprehensive study of the voice of the poor in the lawmaking process breaks new ground. Using a broad range of data, Miler concludes that Congress does an inadequate job of representing the poor at the collective and district level, but there are 'champions' in Congress who advocate for those in poverty.' David T. Canon, University of Wisconsin, Madison

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    Product details

    • Publication planned for: January 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108461818
    • dimensions: 155 x 228 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.34kg
    • availability: Not yet published - available from January 2019
  • Table of Contents

    1. What about the poor?
    2. The political visibility of the poor
    3. Congressional inaction for the poor
    4. Congressional unresponsiveness to the poor
    5. Legislators' unresponsiveness to the poor
    6. Surrogate champions for the poor
    7. Positioned for legislative success
    8. Achieving better representation.

  • Author

    Kristina C. Miler, University of Maryland, College Park
    Kristina C. Miler is Associate Professor in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland. She is the author of Constituency Representation in Congress: The View from Capitol Hill (Cambridge, 2010), which won the Alan Rosenthal Award from the American Political Science Association. Her research focuses on political representation, especially in the US Congress.

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