Summary of Testing Theories of American Politics

Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens

Princeton UP,

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Testing Theories of American Politics summary
If you think average Americans shape political policy, think again. See who really sets the agenda.


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Many Americans may have long suspected that their ability to influence or even garner the attention of their elected representatives in Washington, DC, is limited. Now, this timely, innovative research report confirms their worst suspicions. Political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page used a unique data set to substantiate the conclusion that the policy-making process increasingly overlooks the interests of average US citizens to the benefit of affluent elites. getAbstract highly recommends this eye-opening presentation to civic-minded and politically astute observers who are concerned about the future of American democracy.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Which influence groups really shape American public policies,
  • How four different political theories provide frameworks for American democracy, and
  • Who wins and who loses in the current US political system.


Political scientists have developed four theoretical frameworks through which to study American politics. Each theory offers different predictions about the degree of influence each of four sets of participants – “the average citizen, economic elites, and organized interest groups that are either mass...
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About the Authors

Martin Gilens is a professor of politics at Princeton University. Benjamin I. Page is a professor of policy research at Northwestern University.

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