PLYMOUTH — The Saul O Sidore Lecture Series at Plymouth State University will present Boston College Professor Kay Schlozman speaking on "Who has a Megaphone? Who speaks in a Whisper? Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy," on Thursday, February 5 at 7 p.m. in the Smith Recital Hall at the Silver Center for the Arts.
Schlozman is the J. Joseph Moakley Professor of Political Science at Boston College. She has served as secretary of the American Political Science Association (APSA) and chair of the APSA's section on Elections, Public Opinion and Voting Behavior. She won the organization's 2006 Frank Goodnow Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession of Political Science, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The theme for this year's Sidore Lecture Series is "The State of Democracy," under the premise that Americans consider our political system to be the premier model of democracy, and that we like to think that others around the world wish to emulate us. However, the democratic nature of our institutions cannot be taken for granted—they need to be examined and reexamined. Headlines in the news regarding growing inequality, money in politics, changes in voter registration laws, government surveillance and setbacks of democratic movements in various parts of the world suggest that now is a good time for reflecting on the state of democracy in the United States and elsewhere.
Schlozman will discuss how wealth disparity stands to challenge the American notion of democracy, as the words and desires of the affluent take precedence over the impoverished. With corporations possessing the resources to influence policymakers, questions arise whether there is room left for the voices of everyday citizens to have equal representation.
Policymakers do not hear from everyone, and the political organizations they do hear from are often not representative of the American public. Since the Supreme Court has taken the lid off campaign contributions, those with deep pockets are poised to speak even more loudly in politics.
Schlozman, with Sidney Verba and Henry E. Brady, wrote The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy. Paul Starr (New Republic) says the three are the nation's leading analysts of participatory inequality, and The Unheavenly Chorus "is their magnum opus--a wide-ranging, heavily statistical analysis of how Americans try to make themselves heard as individuals and through organizations of different kinds." Andrea Louise Campbell (Harvard Magazine) calls the book "a troubling story about the state of American democracy."
Named for humanitarian and New Hampshire businessman Saul O Sidore, the Sidore Lecture Series was established in 1979 by PSU and the Sidore Memorial Foundation. The series brings a variety of speakers to campus to address critical issues and events in politics, society and culture—topics that reflect Sidore's interests.
All Sidore Lectures are free and open to the public, but reservations are recommended. A reception follows each lecture. Free tickets are available at the Silver Center Box Office, (603) 535-2787 or (800) 779-3869.
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