Margaret Weir

Wilson Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science, Brown University
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About Margaret

Weir’s work examines the politics of poverty and social policy in the United States, particularly at the state and local levels. Her current project addresses the contemporary politics of spatial inequalities in the American metropolis, showing how poverty’s shifting location is creating new suburban forms of isolation. Drawing on evidence from Atlanta, Chicago, and Phoenix, Weir analyzes strategies for adjusting existing policies and building political alliances to fit the new, more variegated social geography of need. Weir serves on the Social Science Advisory Board of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council.


How Powerful Consumer Advocates Help ObamaCare Succeed in California

  • Charlie Eaton

The Rising Challenge of Poverty in the Suburbs

In the News

"ACA Repeal Threatens America's Rural Jobs," Margaret Weir, Sun Sentinel, February 27, 2017.
Theda Skocpol quoted on pushing progressive policies at the city-level by Lydia DePillis, "Meet the Lefty Club behind a Blitz of New Laws in Cities around the Country" The Washington Post, January 4, 2016.
"The New Geography of Need," Margaret Weir, Against the Grain, KPFA, January 10, 2012.
Regular contributions by Margaret Weir to Building Resilient Regions.


"Building a Stronger Regional Safety Net: Philanthropy's Role," (with Sarah Reckhow), Metropolitan Opportunity Series, Brookings Institution, June 30, 2011.
Examines philanthropic investment in the metropolitan areas of Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, and Denver, showing that despite rising suburban poverty, major philanthropic organizations provide few grants in such areas.
"Creating Justice for the Poor in the New Metropolis" in Justice and the American Metropolis, edited by Clarissa Hayward and Todd Swanstrom (University of Minnesota Press, 2011), 237-256.
As cities gentrify and job opportunities move to the suburbs, new areas of suburban poverty are emerging, located far from the centers of job growth and lacking the nonprofit services and transportation needed by low-income families.
"Politics, Money, and Power in Community Development" in Urban Problems and Community Development, edited by Ronald F. Ferguson and William T. Dickens (Brookings Institution Press, 1999), 139-192.
Comparison of community development corporations, organizing groups affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation, and ACORN, shows the importance of building political power in low-income communities. Apolitical approaches have limited impact.
The Social Divide: Political Parties and the Future of Activist Government (Brookings Institution Press and Russell Sage Press, 1998).
Probing the politics of the budget deficit, jobs, urban policy, and health care, shows how party polarization and uneven patterns of grassroots political mobilization undermined the Clinton administration’s effort to find define a “third way” in American politics.
"Reconnecting People and Politics" in The New Majority, edited by Stanley Greenberg and Theda Skocpol (Yale University Press, 1997).
Shows how the role of money in politics sidelined mobilization and broad participation, and argues that progressives democratic renewal depends on bringing people back into politics, forging new linkages among existing groups, and going beyond issue advocacy to engage in the fundamentals of party politics.
Politics and Jobs: The Boundaries of Employment Policy in the United States (Princeton University Press, 1993).
Explores why the U.S. federal government has done so little to create active labor market polices since the 1930s. Shows how opposition to the Full Employment Act limited policy in the 1940s and racial politics during the War on Poverty undermined programs designed to assist those left behind by economic growth.