Political Science Professor Wins Bailey Prize

By Staci Wilson, CHASS Dean’s Office, Student Intern
October 21, 2011 

Professor Benjamin Bishin of the political science department received the 2011 Bailey Prize from the American Political Science Association at their Seattle conference this summer. The prize is named after author Robert Bailey, who pioneered the study of gay and lesbian politics, and is awarded annually for the best LGBT related paper presented at the previous year’s meeting.

Professor Bishin co-authored his award winning paper, “Gay Rights and Legislative Wrongs: The Representation of Gays and Lesbians”, with UC Irvine political science professor, Tony Smith. Professor Bishin describes the inspiration for his work as having come from an interest in how small groups gain power in the United States political system. The paper explores the conditions under which legislators veer from majority opinion when they conflict with the democratic values of liberty and equality; an action which may either aid or hinder minority groups. In his own words, “we have a form of government that is justified in large part because of its ability to protect the rights of various minority groups, but in practice our system only seems to work well for some small groups.” The concern is that other small groups, which may be less popular, have trouble gaining enough leverage to receive adequate representation in our political system. In his work, Bishin, “seeks to better understand the nature and limits of how these groups gain and exercise power.”

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