Intersectional Advocacy and Policymaking Across US States

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Political Science



Publication Title

The Palgrave Handbook of Intersectionality in Public Policy


Advocacy groups working on behalf of people typically underrepresented in US politics (e.g., women, racial minorities, the poor) frequently advocate for policy benefits on behalf of their constituents. These organizations have undoubtedly changed the face of US politics and policy by encouraging political participation within disadvantaged communities, supporting the political candidates of those traditionally underrepresented in office, and diversifying issue agendas. However, research has shown that organizations do not represent all people equally in the policy process. Specifically, people facing multiple levels, or intersections, of disadvantage are relatively less likely than their more advantaged counterparts to be represented by US state and national advocacy groups. As many advocacy groups cite local, state, or national policy change as a goal, underrepresentation of disadvantaged communities in advocacy can shape government actors' attention to intersectionality when developing public policy. Thus, lack of attention to intersectionality in advocacy could possibly inhibit their achievement of social justice policy goals on behalf of marginalized communities. This leaves open the question of whether inequalities could be reproduced by the very organizations working to make the political process more equitable.


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