What are the obstacles to effective citizenship? How do these condition the representation of citizen preferences and the legitimacy of the political system? Co-chaired by Professors Larry Bartels (Vanderbilt University) and Claudine Gay (Harvard University), this working group focuses on the capacity of citizens in democratic polities to equally and impartially access and influence political life. It also explores how these obstacles are likely to evolve over time and what might be done to strengthen the connection of citizens and civil society to the state. The ambition is to stimulate new scholarship and to introduce social science research into public conversations about citizen participation.

The organizing mandate for this working group was designed broadly in order to provide ample opportunities for working group members to shape the group’s direction. We have invited colleagues with the proclivity to contribute effectively to this wide-ranging enterprise; the disciplines of law, government, political science, history, economics, and sociology are represented, as are practitioners in politics and the media.

For news and announcements about this working group and other Anxieties of Democracy program activities, please click here: @SSRCdemocracy.



Larry Bartels

May Werthan Shayne Chair of Public Policy and Social Science, Vanderbilt University

Claudine Gay

Wilbur A. Cowett Professor of Government and of African and African American Studies and Dean of Social Science, Harvard University



Elisabeth Clemens

William Rainey Harper Professor of Sociology, University of Chicago

Cathy Cohen

David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago

Katherine J. Cramer

Professor of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Mickey Edwards

Vice President, Aspen Institute

Archon Fung

Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship, Harvard University

Hahrie Han

Anton Vonk Associate Professor of Environmental Politics, University of California, Santa Barbara

Marc J. Hetherington

Professor of Political Science, Vanderbilt University

Alexander Keyssar

Matthew W. Stirling Jr. Professor of History and Social Policy, Harvard University

Amy Lerman

Associate Professor of Public Policy and Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

Dara Strolovitch

Associate Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies and Affiliated Faculty, Department of Politics, Princeton University

Richard Yeselson

Contributing Editor, Dissent Magazine


Image credit: “Vote” by Kodak Views [CC BY 2.0]