The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy

Kay Schlozman, J. Joseph Moakley Professor, Boston College
Sidney Verba, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University, Henry E. Brady, Dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy
February 28, 2013, 4:10-5:30 p.m.
124 Mt. Auburn Street, Suite 200-North

About the Seminar

In this seminar, co-authors Professor Schlozman, Professor Verba, and Dean Brady will discuss The Unheavenly Chorus, 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 35,000 organizations over a 25-year period--they conclusively demonstrate that American democracy is marred by deeply ingrained and persistent class-based political inequality. They argue that the well educated and affluent are active in many ways to make their voices heard, while the less advantaged are not. They reveal 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.

The Unheavenly Chorus won two 2012 "Prose Awards" for professional and scholarly excellence given by the Association of American Publishers. The book was awarded honors in the field of government and politics and honors for the best book in social sciences.

About the Speakers

Kay Lehman Schlozman serves as J. Joseph Moakley Endowed Professor of Political Science. She received a bachelor's degree from Wellesley College and a master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. The winner of the American Political Science Association’s 2004 Rowman and Littlefield Award for Innovative Teaching in Political Science, she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in American politics—among them, Parties and Elections in America, Rights in Conflict, Women and Politics, and Inequality and Politics.

She has written numerous articles in professional journals and is editor of Elections in America; co-editor of The Future of Political Science (with Gary King and Norman H. Nie); and co-author of Injury to Insult: Unemployment, Class and Political Response (with Sidney Verba); Organized Interests and American Democracy (with John T. Tierney); Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in American Politics (with Sidney Verba and Henry E. Brady), which was the winner of the APSA's Philip Converse Prize and the Book Award of the American Association for Public Opinion Research; The Private Roots of Public Action: Gender, Equality, and Political Participation (with Nancy Burns and Sidney Verba), which was co-winner of the APSA’s Schuck Prize; and The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy (with Sidney Verba and Henry Brady).

Among her professional activities, she has served as secretary of the American Political Science Association and as chair of the APSA’s organized section on elections, public opinion, and voting Behavior. She is the winner of the APSA’s 2006 Frank Goodnow Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession of Political Science, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Professor Sidney Verba is the Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor Emeritus and Research Professor of Government as Harvard University, where he taught for thirty-five years. At Harvard, he was also chair of the Department of Government, Associate Dean of the Faculty for Undergraduate Education, and Associate Provost, among several other senior administrative posts. In addition, he served as the chair of the Board of Directors of the Harvard University Press and has been the author of University-wide reports on many complex subjects. Professor Verba received his B.A from Harvard and his PhD from Princeton. He taught at Princeton, Stanford, the University of Chicago, before joining the Harvard faculty.

Professor Verba is the author of over twenty books and numerous articles on American and comparative government.

Henry E. Brady is Dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy and Class of 1941 Monroe Deutsch Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his PhD in Economics and Political Science from MIT in 1980. He has written on electoral politics and political participation, social welfare policy, political polling, and statistical methodology, and has worked for the federal Office of Management and Budget and other organizations in Washington, D.C. He has previously served as president of the American Political Science Association, president of the Political Methodology Society of the American Political Science Association, and director of the University of California's Survey Research Center.

Kay Schlozman

Kay Schlozman, J. Joseph Moakley Professor, Boston College