The recent financial crisis in the US has stemmed, in part, from the persistent failure of political elites to effectively represent the poor. This article examines this failure, casting it as a matter of discourse. During the post-civil rights era, political elites have directed their efforts on behalf of the poor through a series of consensual discourses. The consensus they enact is, more specifically, between two ascendant traditions: advanced liberalism, focused on achieving the full incorporation of marginalized groups; and colorblind racism, focused on mobilizing formally race-neutral policies and practices. The first part shows how this dominant consensus legitimated the turn to a racially biased neoliberal regime of poverty management. The second part links its influence to the recent financial crisis, focusing especially on how it has, somewhat paradoxically, taken root in the efforts of antipoverty activists. The article concludes by clarifying the importance of imagining and pursuing representative strategies that more directly counter the dominant consensus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science