Jacob S. Hacker, Yale University, coauthor of Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer—And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class
"If you’re wondering 'what’s the matter with Kansas?'—working-class Americans voting against their own class interest—you should be asking, 'what’s the matter with Congress (and state legislatures, the Supreme Court, and basically every other American political institution)?' As Nicholas Carnes engagingly shows, politicians with working-class backgrounds take positions very much in line with working-class interests. The problem is that there are hardly any of them in office. Sure to stir debate, White-Collar Government opens up exciting research vistas and new strategies of reform."
Ezra Klein, Washington Post
“That Congress contains more than its fair share of millionaires is fairly well known. But I’ve never seen it put quite this vividly. . . . Nicholas Carnes’s research—and common sense—shows that the simple fact of being a white-collar millionaire leads to different priorities. It leads to different social circles. It leads to different bills.”
Theda Skocpol, Harvard University
“A bold, compelling, and much-needed study of how the lack of working class individuals in public life shapes what government does. Nicholas Carnes undertakes a careful analysis to show how the disproportionate representation of people from white-collar professions skews government output toward conservative economic policies. The evidence he presents convinces me!”
Timothy Noah, author of The Great Divergence: America’s Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It
“‘Where you stand depends on where you sit’ is a maxim seldom applied to the economic backgrounds of legislators. But Nicholas Carnes’s eye-opening study shows social class and work experience to be key determinants in shaping how Congress and state legislatures write laws and shape policies.”
Martin S. Gilens, Princeton University, author of Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America
"White-Collar Government is a superb analysis of an important and long-neglected topic. Nicholas Carnes documents the overwhelming underrepresentation of the working class in America's legislatures and shows why it matters. At local, state, and national levels, the dearth of representatives from working-class backgrounds, Carnes shows, has bent public policies toward the interests of business and the well-to-do. This book combines fluid, accessible prose with methodological rigor to make a powerful statement about the causes and consequences of our disproportionately white-collar government. Anyone concerned with the health of American democracy needs to read Carnes' compelling study."
Glenn C. Altschuler | Huffington Post
“Legislators with substantial working-class experience constitute less than two percent of Congress, whose members have a median net worth of $1.5 million, almost twenty times the amount held by the median family in the United States. In White-Collar Government, Carnes carefully documents this reality, which has been hidden in plain sight. And he demonstrates that it matters: politicians from the working classes, it turns out, think and vote differently from those with white collars on economic issues, including taxation, social spending and corporate regulations. With its compelling case that ‘who wins and who loses depends in large part on who governs,’ his rigorous book should command the attention of everyone who is concerned about the state of our democracy.”
Tom Perriello | Democracy
“America’s relationship to class is complicated, and tracking what is a powerful but often invisible identifier is a challenge. Carnes’s book offers scholars a much-needed jumping-off point for continued research on why the working class is vastly underrepresented in public office and how this affects policy outcomes.”
Congress and the Presidency
“In politics, class matters, and it matters immensely. . . . Carnes offers striking evidence that the class background of legislators profoundly influences the US political system. . . . White-Collar Government demonstrates that the working class is radically underrepresented in all levels of US government, and the consequences are substantial. I hope (and suspect) that Carnes’s findings will ignite a wave of research that builds on these conclusions.”
Journal of Economic Literature
“[Carnes] explores the hidden role of class in economic policy making and presents a solution to the notion that legislators’ socioeconomic backgrounds have a profound impact not only on how they view issues but also on the choices they make in office.”
1 White-Collar Government
What Is Class?
The Unequal Social Class Makeup of American Political Institutions
The Elephant in the Room
Why Does Class Matter?
2 Voting with Class
Legislative Voting as a Window into the Importance of Class
Measuring the Divisions
Class and Legislative Voting Today
Class and Legislative Voting during the Postwar Period
The Enduring Imprint of Class
Representational Inequality in “Ayes” and “Nays”
3 Before the Votes are Cast
The Role of Class
Measuring Legislative Entrepreneurship
The Policies Legislators Propose
The Policies Legislators Pass
Leaving the Working Class Off the Agenda
4 Class, Opinions, and Choices
Out of Touch, or Out of Step?
Inside the Mind of a Member of Congress
The Importance of Opinions
Who’s Out of Touch Now?
5 Economic Policy Making in Class-Imbalanced Legislatures
Representation and Policy Making
What Would a Class-Balanced Congress Have Done?
When the Working Class Holds Office
The Economic Consequences of White-Collar Government
6 Fixing the Broken Mirror
What’s Keeping the Working Class Out of Office?
Thinking Bigger about Inequality
Up Front There Ought’a Be a Man in Black
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu