Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Government Dept.


L. Sandy Maisel

Second Advisor

Matthew Archibald


Interdisciplinary research suggests that participation in most forms of political activity in the United States is stratified by socioeconomic status. People with higher socioeconomic statuses are more able and willing to participate in politics than people with lower socioeconomic statuses. This participatory inequality amplifies the political voice of the upper class relative to the lower class. However, little academic attention has been paid to analyzing the impact of socioeconomic inequality on participation in local politics. By analyzing participatory trends in the politics of the rural town of Belgrade, ME, this honors thesis fills a gap in the academic literature on participatory inequality. It argues that while pluralistic sources of political advantage, like nativity, exist in the town and slightly counterbalance the relationship between wealth and political involvement, participatory inequality is still connected to socioeconomic inequality. Even in a small town, economically marginalized people are structurally excluded from politics, which suggests that, to a large extent, democracy and pronounced socioeconomic inequality are incompatible.


political participation, participatory inequality, socioeconomic inequality, local politics, poverty, Goffman, Foucault, mixed methods