Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Margaret Weir

Margaret Weir

+1 401 863 9652
111 Thayer Street, Room 337

Downloadable CV

Margaret Weir

Wilson Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science

Areas of Interest: Social policy in the US and Europe, urban politics and policy.


Margaret Weir is Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs at Brown University.  Before coming to Brown in 2016, she was the Avice M Saint Chair in Public Policy and Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.  Her research centers on social policy, poverty, and urban politics in the United States and Europe.  She is the author and editor of several books, including Schooling for All: Race, Class and the Decline of the Democratic Ideal (coauthored with Ira Katznelson, Basic Books); and Politics and Jobs: The Boundaries of Employment Policy in the United States (Princeton University Press), The Politics of Social Policy in the United States (with Ann Shola Orloff and Theda Skocpol, Princeton University Press) and The Social Divide (Brookings and Russell Sage).  She is currently working on a book about the politics of spatial inequality in American metropolitan areas.


Metropolitan Politics and Inequality

 I am currently working on a book entitled Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Marginalizing the Poor in Metropolitan America.  The book examines how the concerns of low-income residents are being addressed as poverty has moved from being identified as an urban issue to one that reaches across metropolitan areas. Drawing on cases studies of Chicago, Atlanta, and Houston, the project examines political mobilization and policy conflicts in the domains of social services, health care, and transportation. Parts of this project have been published in the Urban Affairs Review, Regional Studies, and Studies in American Political Development.

The Politics of the Public-Private Welfare State

I am interested in understanding how political mobilization can successfully challenge exclusions rooted in policies that are complex and nontransparent.  I have published articles on this question examing health care in Politics and Society and in Health, Politics, Policy, and Law.


“America’s Two Worlds of Welfare: Subnational Institutions and Social Assistance in Metropolitan America,” Perspectives on Politics vol. 16, Issue 2 (2018).

“The Power of Coalitions: Advancing the Public in California’s Public-Private Welfare State,” Politics and Society, March 2015, 43:3-32 (with Charlie Eaton).

“Building Safety Nets in an Era of Fiscal Constraint,” in Metropolitan Resilience in a Time of Economic Turmoil,” Michael Pagano, (ed.)  (University of Illinois Press, 2014), pp. 21-50.

“Building Regional Institutions,” Oxford Handbook of Urban Politics.  Karen Mossberger, Peter John and Susan Clarke (eds.) (Oxford University Press, 2012) (with Christian Lefèvre), pp.624-641.

Building Resilient Regions; vol. 4 of Urban and Regional Policy and its Effects (Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2012) (co-edited with Nancy Pindus, Howard Wial, and Howard Wolman).


POLS 1325 Political Organization and Social Change in America (Fall 2017)

MPA Course Policy Problems of the Twenty-First Century (Spring 2018)

Talks & Media

“America's Two Worlds of Welfare: Subnational Institutions and Social Assistance in Metropolitan America, Political Equality in Unequal Societies: Participation, Representation, and Public Policy, Villa Vigoni, Italy, June 4-8, 2018.

“Race, Redistribution and the Problem of Local Democracy,” Meeting of the Social Science Research Council Working Group on Distribution, Yale University, February 9, 2018

Paper Presentation “Low Income America in the New Metropolis,” Anton-Lippitt Conference on Citizenship and the City, Brown University, January 2018 

“Two Worlds of Welfare,” Paper presented at the American Political Science Association Annual Meetings, San Francisco, August 30-Sept. 3, 2017.

Participant, “Roundtable on Trump and the Cities,” American Political Science Association, Annual Meetings, San Francisco, August 30-Sept. 3, 2017.