In this new contribution to the Democracy Papers, Elisabeth Clemens discusses what she calls the “(mis)alignment of social and political geography” in the United States as an unrecognized source of democratic anxiety. Taking an historical perspective, Clemens traces the increasing distancing of citizens and lived communities from infrastructures and geographies of governance. “Antistatism, federalism, and repeated redistricting,” she argues, render opaque the identification of “effective channels of influences or … responsibility for good or bad governing.”
Elisabeth S. Clemens
Elisabeth S. Clemens is William Rainey Harper Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago and editor of the American Journal of Sociology. Her research explores the role of social movements and organizational innovation in political change. Clemens’ first book, The People’s Lobby: Organizational Innovation and the Rise of Interest Group Politics in the United States, 1890-1925 (The University of Chicago Press, 1997) received best book awards in both organizational and political sociology. She is coeditor of multiple volumes, including Remaking Modernity: Politics, History and Sociology (Duke University Press, 2005) and Politics and Partnerships: Voluntary Associations in America’s Past and Present (University of Chicago Press, 2010). Following the publication of What Is Political Sociology? (Polity, 2016), she is completing Civic Gifts, which traces the tense but powerful entanglements of benevolence and liberalism in the development of the American nation-state.
Clemens has served terms as chair of both the political sociology and comparative historical sociology sections of the American Sociological Association as well as president of the Social Science History Association for 2012–13.