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Affirmative Advocacy

Race, Class, and Gender in Interest Group Politics

Affirmative Advocacy

Race, Class, and Gender in Interest Group Politics

The United States boasts scores of organizations that offer crucial representation for groups that are marginalized in national politics, from women to racial minorities to the poor. Here, in the first systematic study of these organizations, Dara Z. Strolovitch explores the challenges and opportunities they face in the new millennium, as waning legal discrimination coincides with increasing political and economic inequalities within the populations they represent.

Drawing on rich new data from a survey of 286 organizations and interviews with forty officials, Strolovitch finds that groups too often prioritize the interests of their most advantaged members: male rather than female racial minorities, for example, or affluent rather than poor women. But Strolovitch also finds that many organizations try to remedy this inequity, and she concludes by distilling their best practices into a set of principles that she calls affirmative advocacy—a form of representation that aims to overcome the entrenched but often subtle biases against people at the intersection of more than one marginalized group. Intelligently combining political theory with sophisticated empirical methods, Affirmative Advocacy will be required reading for students and scholars of American politics.


"This is a careful, empirically based study, presenting both a detailed portrait of an increasingly important subset of the interest group system, and a compelling interpretation of its impact. . . . Highly recommended."


"[The] book will be of interest to a wide range of sociologists including those studying organizations, social movements, political sociology, and inequality. . . . Affirmative Advocacy is a book that should provoke broad-ranging debate and opens new questions for scholars of advocacy organizations, social movements, and inequality."

Kenneth T. Andrews | Contemporary Sociology

"Sociologists will find much of value in Strolovitch’s work, and any serious reader will hope that it ushers in increased dialogue between political scientists and sociologists who study political organizations and movement."

John Skrentny | American Journal of Sociology

Table of Contents

Abbreviations and Acronyms

Chapter 1         Introduction
Chapter 2         Closer to a Pluralist Heaven?
Chapter 3         Intersectionality and Representation
Chapter 4         Trickle-Down Representation?
Chapter 5         Tyranny of the Minority? Institutional Targets and Advocacy Strategies
Chapter 6         Coalition and Collaboration among Advocacy Organizations
Chapter 7         Conclusion: Affirmative Advocacy
Appendix A      Study Design: Methodology and Data Collection
Appendix B      Survey Script
Appendix C      Interview Protocol


ASA Section on Race, Gender and Class: Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award

American Political Science Association: Gladys M. Kammerer Award

APSA Political Organizations and Parties Section: Leon Epstein Award

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