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“For Your Reference” Episode to Discuss the Politics of Income Inequality
September 30, 2021

Why are the economic interests and priorities of lower- and middle-class Americans so often ignored by the US Congress, while the economic interests of the wealthiest are prioritized?

UT political science professors Nathan Kelly and Jana Morgan will discuss the intersection of politics and income inequality on the next episode of For Your Reference, the UT Libraries’ series of livestream chats with university scholars. The public is invited to join the event at 7 p.m. (EST), Thursday, October 21, on YouTube or Facebook.

In Hijacking the Agenda: Economic Power and Political Influence,* Kelly, Morgan, and their coauthors examine why Congress privileges the concerns of businesses and the wealthy over those of average Americans.

The authors analyze over 20 years of floor speeches by several hundred members of Congress to examine the influence of campaign contributions on how the national economic agenda is set in Congress. They find that legislators who received more money from business and professional associations were more likely to discuss the deficit and other upper-class priorities, while those who received more money from unions were more likely to discuss issues important to lower- and middle-class constituents, such as economic inequality and wages. This attention imbalance matters because issues discussed in Congress receive more direct legislative action.

Join us October 21 to learn why the interests of the wealthy have the upper hand in shaping the laws passed by Congress.

photo of Nathan Kelly

Nathan Kelly is professor of political science at the University of Tennessee and co-director of the Tennessee Scholars Strategy Network. His research examines various forms of inequality, particularly how politics and policy are connected to economic inequality in the United States and cross-nationally in the Western Hemisphere. He is coauthor of Hijacking the Agenda (Russell Sage Foundation), America’s Inequality Trap (University of Chicago Press), and The Politics of Income Inequality in the United States (Cambridge University Press). He has also authored dozens of journal articles and was selected as a recipient of the prestigious Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, the first University of Tennessee faculty member so honored.

photo of Jana Morgan

Jana Morgan is professor of political science at the University of Tennessee and associate editor for politics and international relations at Latin American Research Review. Her research examines the political consequences of inequality, exclusion, and lack of representation across the Americas. In addition to coauthoring Hijacking the Agenda, she is author of Bankrupt Representation and Party System Collapse, which received the Van Cott Best Book Award from the Latin American Studies Association. Her work has been published in various outlets including American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, and the Journal of Politics. She has received funding from the Fulbright-Hays program, the Pew Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation, and she regularly gives talks for audiences at universities, think tanks, and government agencies throughout the United States and Latin America.