Politics & Polls #146: Entrenchment and Overcoming the Power of Concentrated Wealth Featuring Paul Starr

Jul 11 2019
By Morgan C. Tucker
Source Woodrow Wilson School

Efforts at controlling the powers of concentrated wealth has been an ongoing problem within society. Some believe overcoming the issue involves looking back at the foundations of democratic societies.

Paul Starr from Princeton University joins Sam Wang and Julian E. Zelizer to discuss about his new book, “Entrenchment: Wealth, Power and, the Constitution of Democratic Societies.” The book examines how societal changes in the foundations of contemporary politics are difficult to reverse and how the efforts against entrenchment can be found in the foundations of society to influence the future of America’s democracy.

Starr is Stuart Professor of Communications and Public Affairs and professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect magazine and received the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction and the 1984 Bancroft Prize in American History. His other books include “The Social Transformation of American Medicine” and “The Creation of the Media” and more.

Click here to read Starr’s latest article on de-entrenchment in The American Prospect.


Wang is a professor at Princeton University, appointed in neuroscience with affiliate appointments in the Program in Law and Public Affairs and the Center for Information Technology Policy. An alumnus of Caltech, where he received a B.S. with honors in physics, he went on to earn a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Stanford University School of Medicine. He conducted postdoctoral research at Duke University Medical Center and at Bell Labs Lucent Technologies. He has also worked on science and education policy for the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. He is noted for his application of data analytics and poll aggregation to American politics. He is leading an effort at the Princeton Gerrymandering Project to build a 50-state data resource for legislative-quality citizen redistricting. His work to define a state-level legal theory to limit partisan gerrymandering recently won Common Cause’s Gerrymandering Standard Writing Contest. His neuroscience research concerns how the brain learns from sensory experience in early life, adulthood and autism.

Zelizer has been among the pioneers in the revival of American political history. He is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University and a CNN political analyst. He has written more than 900 op-eds, including his popular weekly column for CNN.com and The Atlantic. This year, he is the distinguished senior fellow at the New York Historical Society, where he is writing a biography of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel for Yale University's Jewish Lives Series. He is the author and editor of more than 19 books including, “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society,” the winner of the D.B. Hardeman Prize for the Best Book on Congress. In January 2019, Norton published his new book, co-authored with Kevin Kruse, “Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974.” In spring 2020, Penguin Press will publish his other book, “Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, The Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party.” He has received fellowships from the Brookings Institution, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation and New America.