Jana Morgan, Ph.D.


University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Country: United States (Tennessee)

About Me:

Jana Morgan is Professor of Political Science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Jana’s research considers issues of inequality, exclusion, and representation. She is particularly interested in exploring how economic, social, and political inequalities affect marginalized groups and undermine democratic institutions and outcomes. She is the recipient of the Van Cott Outstanding Book award given by the Latin American Studies Association for her book Bankrupt Representation and Party System Collapse (Penn State, 2011), which shows how party systems' inability to provide adequate linkages between society and the state precipitate system collapse and permit the rise of anti-system outsiders. By analyzing party system failure, the book provides an account of a the rise of Chavismo in Venezuela. In her current work, Jana is exploring how persistent structures of economic and ethnoracial inequality within democratic systems shape the way citizens participate in politics, encounter agents of representation, and perceive the state. She is also analyzing the causes and consequences of gendered economic and political inequalities cross-nationally. Other work examines the linkages between campaign finance, political rhetoric, and the persistence of inequality in the United States. Her work has received funding from various sources including the Pew Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the Fulbright-Hays program. She has been published in numerous journals including American Political Science ReviewJournal of Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Latin American Research Review, Latin American Politics and Society, and Politics & Gender. Jana chairs the AmericasBarometer survey in the Dominican Republic, and she has worked with policymakers at USAID and the State Department, translating ideas from social science research in to the policy context. Discussions of her work have appeared in outlets like the Monkey Cage Blog at the Washington Post, the LSE US-APP blog, and The Nation.

Research Interests

Latin American And Caribbean Politics

Political Parties and Interest Groups

Public Opinion

Gender and Politics

Race, Ethnicity and Politics

Class, Inequality, and Labor Politics

Inequality And Exclusion

Democratic Norms

Consequences Of Marginalization

Challenges To Democracy

Countries of Interest



Dominican Republic

United States

My Research:

Currently, I am working on a project analyzing the increasingly prevalent phenomenon of political systems that follow basic democratic rules but still perpetuate entrenched economic and social hierarchies. My work assesses how the incongruities between democratic ideals and lived reality within these sorts of exclusionary democracies shape people understand and practice democratic citizenship. I am interested in understanding how different patterns of political and economic exclusion may distort state-society interactions, particularly for the most marginalized.In a second collaborative project, I am exploring how competing interests in the U.S. system influence the congressional economic agenda and shape the policy process. We employ text analysis of the Congressional Record together with in-depth policy case studies of financial deregulation and the minimum wage to explore the linkages between campaign finance, the congressional agenda, and the persistence of inequality in the United States. The project demonstrates how wealthy interests hijack the policy agenda in ways that favor their interests.A third major area of research examines gender norms and women's representation in the developing world. A central argument in this line of scholarship emphasizes how women's voices tend to be marginalized in the political process because of gendered institutions and norms that are (intentionally or unintentionally) maintained by political elites.


Journal Articles:

(2018) Political Decentralization and Party Decay, Latin American Research Review

Early advocates of decentralization lauded it as a strategy for strengthening democratic institutions, but later scholarship has emphasized decentralization’s negative consequences, especially for political parties. This article argues that the impact of political decentralization on established parties is shaped by the context in which the reforms occur, with poor economic performance and limited programmatic differentiation making parties more vulnerable to the challenges posed by decentralization. The article explores how decentralization under such circumstances has contributed to party decay in Latin America, where declining support for established parties has been significant, in some places undermining democratic stability and governability. The article employs cross-national time-series analysis and case studies. The quantitative evidence indicates that political decentralization weakens existing parties in contexts of poor economic conditions and little ideological differentiation in the party system. Case studies elaborate the processes through which decentralizing reforms together with economic conditions and party linkages affect party systems.

(2017) Social Patterns of Inequality, Partisan Competition, and Latin American Support for Redistribution, Journal of Politics

This article argues that social patterns of inequality and structures of partisan competition play central roles in shaping support for redistribution, offering three important insights concerning redistribution attitude formation. First, pronounced income disparities between ethnic/racial groups reduce support for redistribution. Second, for members of marginalized ethnic groups, entrenched discrimination reflected in large between-group inequalities provokes skepticism regarding state redistributive efforts, undermining their generally favorable attitudes toward redistribution. Third, when party systems feature programmatic competition around distributional issues, citizens are more likely to view government redistribution favorably, particularly where meaningful left options are present, while in systems without programmatic parties advocating pro-poor policy, support for redistribution is weaker. The results based on multilevel analysis of survey data from 18 Latin American countries suggest that building political support for redistribution is more difficult when economic and ethnic inequalities overlap and when party systems lack programmatic appeals emphasizing distributive issues.

(2016) Parties Under Stress: A Linkage Decay Framework Applied to the Chilean Party System, Journal of Politics in Latin America

Conventional wisdom suggests Chile’s party system is highly institutionalized. However, recent declines in participation and partisanship have begun to raise questions about this veneer of stability. This article assesses the current state of the Chilean party system, analyzing its ability to provide linkage. We specify a theoretical framework for identifying challenges to linkage and constraints on necessary adaptation. We then use this framework to evaluate linkage in the contemporary Chilean system, emphasizing how its representational profile has changed since the democratic transition. The analysis suggests the two partisan coalitions no longer present clear policy alternatives and programmatic representation increasingly depends on policy responsiveness and relics of old ideological divides. Significant institutional constraints impede parties’ ability to incorporate demands from emerging social groups, and clientelism remains a complementary but not core linkage mechanism. This evidence indicates that while representation in Chile has not yet failed, the system contains serious vulnerabilities.

(2016) Trust in Government Institutions: The Effects of Performance and Participation in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, International Political Science Review

This article analyzes theories of institutional trust in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, two developing countries that have shared some historical legacies but currently manifest divergent economic and political trajectories. The evidence confirms that conventional theories emphasizing participation and government performance help us understand institutional trust in both countries. In addition, the analysis emphasizes the analytical leverage gained by exploring the extent to which different facets of engagement have divergent effects on institutional trust. The findings build upon previous research to underscore the importance of considering how context shapes the precise ways in which performance and engagement influence institutional trust, particularly when analyzing the developing world.

(2014) Conditional Status Quo Bias and Top Income Shares: How U.S. Political Institutions Benefit the Rich, Journal of Politics

This article develops and tests a model of conditional status quo bias and American inequality. We find that institutional features that bias policy outcomes toward the status quo have played a central role in the path of inequality. Using time-series analysis of top income shares during the post-Depression period, we identify the Senate as a key actor in the politics of income inequality. Our findings suggest that the supermajoritarian nature of the Senate and policy stagnation, when coupled with economic and social factors that produce rising inequality, create a situation in which inequality becomes difficult to reverse.

(2013) Latin American Attitudes toward Women in Politics: The Influence of Elite Cues, Female Advancement, and Individual Characteristics, American Political Science Review

This article outlines three theoretical arguments—socialization, status discontent, and elite cues—that generate competing predictions about the way context shapes gender attitudes. Using hierarchical analysis, we assess the power of these arguments in Latin America, a region that manifests considerable variation on our central explanatory variables and thus offers important theoretical leverage. We find men's gender attitudes to be highly contingent on elite cues and susceptible to backlash effects in response to women's economic advancement. Also, where women lack national representation, distrust of government promotes support for female leadership as an alternative to the discredited (male) establishment. The analysis supports existing individual-level explanations of gender attitudes and demonstrates a connection between diffuse democratic values and gender egalitarianism. The findings suggest that recent advances for female politicians in Latin America may be susceptible to reversal, and they illuminate strategies for strengthening women's equality in the region.

(2013) Market Conditioning, Redistribution and Income Inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean, Journal of Politics

This article analyzes how politics influences Latin American and Caribbean income inequality. Most studies view the distributional process in two phases with inequality shaped first by markets and then by state redistribution. Typically, cross-national analyses of inequality limit the influence of politics to the redistributive phase. But we argue that a full understanding of how government affects inequality must also consider how politics shapes the market. While redistribution is undoubtedly an important mechanism employed by government to influence distributional outcomes, we find that inequality produced by the market is more responsive to politics than is redistribution. Left partisan power and public investment in human capital significantly reduce inequality in the market phase. In addition, social spending on human capital conditions the effect of economic growth. As human capital investment increases, growth becomes more equality enhancing, providing further evidence of the market conditioning effect of policy.

(2011) Dominican Party System Continuity amid Regional Transformations: Economic Policy, Clientelism and Migration Flows, Latin American Politics and Society

In the 1980s and 1990s, economic crisis produced ideological convergence in many Latin American party systems. Much scholarship explores how this convergence frequently provoked system change that enabled renewed ideological differentiation, but little research examines instances where convergence persisted without destabilizing the system. Through comparative historical analysis of Dominican continuity amid regional change, this study identifies factors that sustain or challenge party systems. Then, through analysis of Americas Barometer surveys, it assesses the causal mechanisms through which these factors shape support for the traditional Dominican parties. The findings demonstrate that maintaining programmatic and clientelist linkages facilitates continuity. In addition, the article argues that the threats political outsiders pose to existing party systems are constrained when people excluded from the system are divided and demobilized. In the Dominican case, Haitian immigration divides the popular sector while Dominicans abroad sustain ties to the parties, with both migration flows facilitating party system continuity.

(2008) Gender Politics in the Dominican Republic: Advances for Women, Ambivalence from Men, Politics & Gender

A considerable body of research has analyzed the influence of the women's movement, changes in women's political representation, and policies promoting women's interests in the developing world. However, we know comparatively less about the degree to which the attitudes and behaviors of the mass public mirror these national patterns. This article explores the evolution of gender differences in citizens' political interest, civic engagement, and support for women in politics in the Dominican Republic over 1994–2004, a period important for the country's democratization as well as one of significant changes in gender-related discourse and policies. We find evidence of a shift from a traditional gender gap to a modern gender gap, but the explanations for changes in women's views are distinct from those of men. We find that sociostructural factors, particularly age and education, and cues from political elites have significantly different effects on men versus women. Women's levels of political interest and support for equality in political participation are more fixed in their youth, whereas men's levels evolve through middle age. The evidence also indicates that reducing the gender gap in political interest would significantly narrow gender differences in civic activism. Most notably, men appear to be more easily swayed by elite cues that favor or oppose women's political participation; women's support for equal participation is much less susceptible to reversals in elite support. The consolidation of advances in gender equity thus depends significantly on contextual factors such as elite discourse.

(2007) Partisanship during the Collapse of the Venezuelan Party System, Latin American Research Review

Political parties are crucial for democratic politics; thus, the growing incidence of party and party system failure raises questions about the health of representative democracy the world over. This article examines the collapse of the Venezuelan party system, arguably one of the most institutionalized party systems in Latin America, by examining the individual-level basis behind the exodus of partisans from the traditional parties. Multinomial logit analysis of partisan identification in 1998, the pivotal moment of the system's complete collapse, indicates that people left the old system and began to support new parties because the traditional parties failed to incorporate and give voice to important ideas and interests in society while viable alternatives emerged to fill this void in representation

(2003) Counting on the Past or Investing in the Future? Economic and Political Accountability in Fujimori’s Peru, Journal of Politics

This article strengthens and extends economic theories of presidential approval, assesses accountability in Peru's “delegative democracy,” and explores the political feasibility of economic policies. The analysis finds that prospective evaluations shape presidential approval in Peru, demonstrating the utility of economic theories in the developing world. Peruvians hold politicians accountable not only for the economic past, but also for future implications of past actions, which suggests that vertical accountability exists and that this type of accountability encourages forward-looking policy choices. Finally, the analysis indicates that important political events, including the capture of the Sendero Luminoso guerrillas and Fujimori's autogolpe, influence Peruvians’ approval of the president.

Books Written:

(2011) Bankrupt Representation and Party System Collapse, Pennsylvania State University Press

Bankrupt Representation and Party System Collapse demonstrates how party systems' inability to provide adequate linkages between society and the state precipitate their collapse and open the door to anti-system outsiders.

Book Chapters:

(2018) Deterioration and Polarization of Party Politics in Venezuela, Cambridge University Press

This chapter traces the collapse of Venezuela’s institutionalized party system and details the features of post-collapse party politics. It demonstrates that challenges to the traditional parties’ core linkage strategies together with constraints limiting appropriate adaptation produced fundamental failures of representation leading to party system collapse. Following collapse, the party system has increasingly centered around the chavista-opposition divide, which is defined not only by the personality of Hugo Chávez but also by fundamental differences concerning the rules of the game and control of the state apparatus. Processes of deinstitutionalization and polarization also characterize contemporary Venezuelan politics. However, deinstitutionalization has been uneven. While inter-party volatility is high, inter-coalition competition has stabilized, and party-society ties have emerged. At the same time, party organizations remain weak, and the legitimacy of parties and elections is highly polarized along partisan lines at both the elite and mass level. The chapter concludes by laying out several potential future paths and argues that solidification of a hegemonic party system with chavismo at the center is the most likely outcome.

(2018) Women in Political Parties: Seen but Not Heard, Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with a discussion of causes, the factors that shape women’s representation within and by political parties. Using 2009 data from all major parties in eighteen Latin American countries, the chapter presents data on women’s representation within parties (as leaders and within women’s wings) and by parties (as candidates and officeholders). Moreover, the chapter discusses how women’s descriptive representation is shaped by parties’ candidate selection procedures, including voluntary party-based gender quotas and legislated national quotas, which alter these nomination procedures. The chapter then analyzes women’s substantive representation through parties, drawing on evidence from expert surveys, party manifestos, and public opinion data concerning party attachments. Here we evaluate the extent to which parties advocate for women’s issues and employ strategies aimed at incorporating women’s concerns in the political process. The findings suggest that few Latin American parties prioritize or even maintain organizational ties to women’s groups, and women’s concerns rarely figure prominently in party platforms. We also consider the extent to which and mechanisms through which women connect to political parties, finding that women are much less likely to identify with parties than men, even after controlling for a wide array of factors that might be expected to contribute to this gap. The chapter concludes by discussing the challenges women face regarding their full incorporation by and within political parties and suggesting some steps parties might take to promote women’s representation.

(2015) Gender and the Latin American Voter, University of Michigan Press

Gender gaps in vote choice are an important focus of study in advanced democracies where traditional gender gaps in public attitudes have gradually given way to modern ones. But gender differences in these areas have received considerably less attention outside established democracies. The small body of existing scholarship that has focused on developing democracies suggests such countries may persist in manifesting traditional gender gaps on these important outcomes. However findings from the United States and Europe hint that this pattern might be in transition, particularly in contexts where the importance of religion has receded, more women experience personal autonomy, or female economic empowerment is more widespread. This chapter assesses the current status of gender gaps across Latin America. The evidence suggests that small traditional gender gaps in vote choice persist in the region, and modern gender gaps are still largely absent. The chapter explores how individual characteristics and attitudes as well as party system features and social structures shape the nature of the gender gap in vote choice. The chapter concludes by analyzing the factors that shape the decision to vote for female presidential candidates, finding that women as well as people living in countries with greater gender equality are more likely to support women in their efforts to reach the highest elected office.