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Who Speaks for the Poor?
Electoral Geography, Party Entry, and Representation

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Part of Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics

  • Date Published: August 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108412315

$ 29.99 (G)

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About the Authors
  • Who Speaks for the Poor? explains why parties represent some groups and not others. This book focuses attention on the electoral geography of income, and how it has changed over time, to account for cross-national differences in the political and partisan representation of low-income voters. Jusko develops a general theory of new party formation that shows how changes in the geographic distribution of groups across electoral districts create opportunities for new parties to enter elections, especially where changes favor groups previously excluded from local partisan networks. Empirical evidence is drawn first from a broadly comparative analysis of all new party entry and then from a series of historical case studies, each focusing on the strategic entry incentives of new low-income peoples' parties. Jusko offers a new explanation for the absence of a low-income people's party in the USA and a more general account of political inequality in contemporary democratic societies.

    • Explains why parties represent some groups and not others, developing a theory of strategic party formation and entry that puts the electoral geography of income, as it develops over time, front and center
    • Marshals a wide range of quantitative and historical evidence including in-depth case studies of the USA, Canada, the UK, and Sweden and a comparative analysis of all new party entries from 1880–2000 across fourteen post-industrial democracies
    • Sheds new comparative light on why low-income citizens' interests are underrepresented by American political institutions
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    • Honourable Mention, 2018 Luebbert Best Book Award, Comparative Politics Section, American Political Science Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘This elegant and audacious book is a must-read for anyone interested in the topic of democratic representation. Jusko advances a novel theory of party formation and deploys this theory to explain why it is that low-income citizens are better represented in some democracies than in others. The representation of low-income citizens depends crucially on their distribution across electoral districts. This compelling argument is supported by quantitative comparative analyses and historical case studies of Britain, Canada, Sweden and the US. The book sheds new light on American exceptionalism and brings out intriguing similarities between agrarian-populist and labor-based (social democratic) parties. Jusko's historical data on the electoral geography of income should be an inspiration to us all.' Jonas Pontusson, Université de Genève

    'This book addresses an enduring question in an entirely novel way. It fixes the identity of the group so that it is independent of prior political mobilization. This enables the isolation of opportunities for agency by party elites as distinct from demand. Its analysis of microdata from old, difficult-of-access sources is a model of care, attention to detail, and methodological originality. The implications of the study are profound: for representation in general as well as of the poor, for persistence and change in party system patterns, and for the pivotal role of party elites.' Richard Johnston, Canada Research Chair in Public Opinion, Elections, and Representation, The University of British Columbia

    'Demonstrating how the changing electoral geographies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries created incentives for political entrepreneurs to form and mobilize low-income constituencies, Jusko provides an innovative account of the origins of cross-national differences in the political representation of low-income citizens. Jusko’s work provides a new, innovative explanation for the current absence of a low-income party constituency in the US. Highly Recommended.' J. M. Trayhan, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108412315
    • length: 218 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 150 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.33kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Who speaks for the poor?
    2. How electoral geography matters
    3. New parties and the changing electoral geography of contemporary democracies, 1880–2000
    4. The populists and 'third-party men' in America
    5. Canadian electoral geography and the strategic entry of the CCF and social credit
    6. The implications of electoral geography for British Labour
    7. The Swedish Social Democratic Party, and the long-term implications of electoral reform
    8. 'It didn't happen here': the general implications of electoral geography for the political representation of the poor.

  • Author

    Karen Long Jusko, Stanford University, California
    Karen Long Jusko is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Stanford University, California, and an affiliate of the Europe Center and the Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and was a Fellow at the Center for the Study Democratic Politics at Princeton University and a National Hoover Fellow. Jusko has received research support from the National Science Foundation as part of a European Science Foundation Collaborative Research Program. Who Speaks for the Poor? builds on graduate research that received the Harold D. Laswell Prize for the best dissertation in the field of public policy from the Policy Studies Organization and the American Political Science Association Public Policy Organized Section.


    • Honourable Mention, 2018 Luebbert Best Book Award, Comparative Politics Section, American Political Science Association

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