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Chloe Thurston

Assistant Professor of Political Science

PhD, Political Science, University of California, Berkeley, 2013

Political scientist Chloe Thurston’s research is at the intersection of American political development and political economy and has focused on the development of social and economic policies, interest groups and social movements, institutional change, and historical analysis. Prior to coming to Northwestern in 2014, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University. She has been a Northwestern Public Voices Fellow and a Hewlett Teaching Fellow.

Thurston is the author of At the Boundaries of Home Ownership: Credit, Discrimination, and the American State (Cambridge University Press, 2018), and her research has been published in the Journal of Public Policy, Studies in American Political Development, and Politics, Groups, and Identities. Her op-eds have appeared in Ms. Magazine and The Monkey Cage in the Washington Post.

Current Research

The Politics of Home Ownership. Thurston examines the important role that the federal government played since the 1930s in who could own a home and uncovers the important role of citizen efforts to expand access to home ownership to groups discriminated against. Advocacy groups, including the NAACP and the Women’s Equity Action League, fought for minorities, women, and low-income people against discriminatory government policies such as restrictive covenants that limited home ownership. 

Policy Feedback’s Limited Effects. With IPR political scientist Dan Galvin, Thurston is studying the limited ability of policy feedback processes to cement partisan loyalties, especially in the Democratic Party. Although Democrats have relied on policy success as if it were political success—believing voters would support the party because of its policies—the researchers find that elections are not won by policy accomplishments. Instead, political parties need to strengthen party organization.

Selected Publications

Thurston, C. 2018. At the Boundaries of Home Ownership: Credit, Discrimination, and the American State. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Thurston, C. 2018. Black Lives Matter, American political development, and the politics of visibility. Politics, Groups, and Identities 6:162–70.

Galvin, D., and C. Thurston. 2017. The Democrats’ misplaced faith in policy feedback. The Forum 15(2): 333–43. 

Thurston, C. 2015. Policy feedback in the public-private welfare state: Advocacy groups and access to government homeownership programs, 1934-1954. Studies in American Political Development 29(2): 250–67. 

Rocco, P., and C. Thurston. 2014. From metaphors to measures: Observable indicators of gradual institutional change. Journal of Public Policy 34(1): 35–62.