'The Voice of the Least Privileged is Virtually Silent': Research
Summary of Book review:
Kay Lehman Scholzman, Sidney Verba and Henry Brady have written a book on the relationship between socio-economic status (SES) and political participation, either as an individual or collectively.
Their findings confirm earlier research that SES status is 'positively related to virtually every form of political participation' including voting, making donations, volunteering, participating in protests, joining politically-related organisations and contacting government officials. This relationship holds true at national, state and local government levels.
To see if the emergence of the Internet and social media technologies has enabled those at the lower ends of the socio-economic scale to increase their political participation, the authors have examined 60 years worth of data going back to 1952. Despite the enormous social, cultural and technological change over that time, the 'inequality of individual political voice has remained quite stable'.
In addition to their analysis of individual participation, the authors examined over 35,000 interest groups going back to 1981. The results are nearly identical to those for individuals – corporations, hospitals, trade associations, universities and the like are well represented but the 'voice of the least privileged is virtually silent'.
The author's work confirms E.E. Schatschneider's observation that the 'flaw in the pluralist heaven is that the heavenly chorus sings with a strong upper-class accent.'
Thumbnail image source: Princeton University Press.