Gilens

Martin Gilens

Affiliations
Professor of Politics, Princeton University
Areas of Expertise:
  • Inequality & the Middle Class
  • Antipoverty Policy
  • Media & Public Opinion
  • Race & Ethnicity

About Martin

Gilens’ current research focuses on inequality and public policy. In Affluence & Influence and related journal articles, he explores how political inequality in the United States has evolved over the last several decades and how the disparity in government responsiveness to more and less well-off Americans has been shaped by interest groups, parties, and elections. A second major area of Gilens’ work concerns race and public attitudes toward poverty and inequality. In this research, he explores the role of the news media in shaping how the public perceives of poverty and welfare.

Briefs

Who Gets What They Want from Government?

Podcast

Publications

"Descriptive Representation, Money, and Political Inequality in the United States" Swiss Political Science Review 21, no. 2 (2015): 222-228.
Argues that the primary reason that policymakers in the U.S. cater to the preferences and interests of the well-to-do is the outsize role of money in American politics.
"Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens" (with Benjamin I. Page). Perspectives on Politics 12, no. 3 (2014): 564-581.
Discusses four theoretical traditions in the study of American politics—which can be characterized as theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic-Elite Domination, and two types of interest-group pluralism, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism— that offers different predictions about which sets of actors have how much influence over public policy: average citizens; economic elites; and organized interest groups, mass-based or business-oriented.
Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media, and the Politics of Anti-Poverty Policy (University of Chicago Press, 1999).
Explores the racialization of poverty in America, and role of the media in perpetuating stereotypes of African Americans as the “undeserving poor.” Also shows that news coverage of poverty during hard times is both more sympathetic to the poor and less likely portray the poor as black.
"Corporate Ownership and News Bias: Newspaper Coverage of the 1996 Telecommunications Bill" (with Craig Hertzman). Journal of Politics 62, no. 2 (2000): 369-386.
Finds that newspapers owned by corporations that stood to gain most from this landmark legislation provided much more positive coverage of the legislation and neglected critical concerns that were contained in coverage by other newspapers.
"Inequality and Democratic Responsiveness" Public Opinion Quarterly 69, no. 5 (2005): 778-796.
Reports the core findings of the Affluence & Influence project.
Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America (Princeton University Press and the Russell Sage Foundation, 2012).

Examines the disproportionate influence of affluent Americans over government policy, showing that the ability of the well-off to influence political decision-making has grown over time, but that impending elections and strong partisan competition in Congress can help produce policies that are more broadly responsive to the public as a whole.

In the News

Martin Gilens's research on Paul Street. Martin Gilens (with Benjamin I. Page), "The ‘Values,’ ‘Vision,’ and ‘Democracy’ of an Inauthentic Opposition," Consortium News, May 3, 2018.
Martin Gilens quoted in Dylan Matthews, "Studies: Democratic Politicians Represent Middle-Class Voters. GOP Politicians Don’t." Vox, April 2, 2018.
Martin Gilens quoted in Michaela Collord, "Critiques of Elite Power aren’t Antisemitic or Conspiratorial – They are Necessary" Red Pepper, April 3, 2018.
Martin Gilens quoted in Sergio Alejandro Gómez, "The United States is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy" Granma, April 4, 2018.
Martin Gilens quoted in Alessandro Bruno, "The Erosion of the Middle Class Marks the End of the American Dream" Lombardi Letter, March 20, 2018.
Martin Gilens quoted in Robert Reich, "Kushner’s Unconscionable Conflicts" AlterNet, March 4, 2018.
Martin Gilens quoted in Yascha Mounk, "America is Not a Democracy" Hot Air, February 1, 2018.
Martin Gilens quoted on portrayals of the nation's poor in Tracie McMillan, "What Do We Think Poverty Looks Like?" New York Times, July 8, 2017.
Martin Gilens quoted on the policy views of different socioeconomic classes in Michael Tomasky, "The Hard-Right Swerve of the Super Rich" Daily Beast, October 13, 2015.
Martin Gilens quoted on the impact the preferences of economic elites have on public policy in Joe Magruder, "My Turn: The Candidate Who Really Scares the Establishment" Concord Monitor, October 20, 2015.
Martin Gilens quoted on congressional voting patterns in Thomas B. Edsall, "How Did the Democrats Become Favorites of the Rich?" New York Times, October 7, 2015.
Martin Gilens quoted on how policymakers favor big business, "New Research Shows Just How Much Presidents Try to Manipulate Public Opinion" The Washington Post, August 9, 2015.
Guest to discuss whether Congress cares more about the political interests of regular American citizens as much as those of their affluent donors on Slate's The Gist, Martin Gilens, June 17, 2015.
Interview on how majority-rule democracy exists only in theory in the United StatesMartin Gilens (with Benjamin I. Page), Talking Points Memo, April 22, 2014.
Martin Gilens's research on four theories for explaining who's shaping policy in the U.S. discussed in Boer Deng. Martin Gilens, "The Silver Lining to Our Oligarchy," Slate, April 24, 2014.
Martin Gilens's research on the relative political influence of U.S. citizens at different income levels (with Benjamin I. Page) discussed in Larry Bartels. Martin Gilens, "Rich People Rule!," Washington Post, April 8, 2014.
"Under the Influence," Martin Gilens, Lead Essay, Boston Review, July/August 2012.
"Taxes and the Tyranny of the Minority," Martin Gilens, New York Times, September 20, 2011.
Martin Gilens quoted on income inequality, "Notes on Income Inequality" The Washington Post, October 12, 2011.
"The Anti-Entitlement Strategy," Martin Gilens, New York Times, December 25, 2011.