Nathan J. Kelly - Department of Political Science


Nathan J. Kelly

Associate Professor

Department of Political Science

University of Tennessee

1001 McClung Tower

Knoxville, TN 37996-0410


Phone: 865-974-7186

Fax: 865-974-7037

Office Location: 810 McClung Tower



I am an associate professor in the department of political science at the University of Tennessee. Along with being selected as a member of the 2017 class of Carnegie Fellows, I will be a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Fundation for the 2017 academic year. My research is driven by an interest in social, political, and economic inequality. In particular, I explore how the decisions of political actors and the design and operation of political institutions shape the distribution of economic well-being. I am also interested in how political systems respond to changes in various aspects of inequality as well as how historically marginalized groups are incorporated (or not) into political systems and how interactions with the state shape the attitudes and behavior of marginalized groups.

My first book (Cambridge University Press, 2009) focused on how partisan conflict, public opinion, and policy decisions have shaped the path of economic inequality since World War II. My second book project (America's Inequality Trap, under contract at University of Chicago Press) explores how economic and political inequality reinforce one another, making it very difficult to reverse the recent trend toward a larger income gap between rich and poor. I have also authored a series of journal articles on this topic and have several article-length manuscripts in preparation. I am part of a large collaborative project seeking to develop a substantial new data set on rhetoric in the U.S. congress with the goal of assessing how inequality shapes political rhethoric and public opinion in the United States. My work is also moving beyond the United States context. I have authored a series of articles examining inequality, public opinion, and representation cross-nationally. This portion of my research agenda focuses on how citizens respond to "Exclusionary Democracy," in which certain social segments face overlapping political and economic disadvantage.